Areva and Schneider Electric to partner on hydrogen storage for remote areas

France’s Areva and Schneider Electric have entered a partnership to develop systems for energy storage using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The partnership pools the expertise of the two companies to enhance the reliability of electricity grids in isolated areas. Areva’s contribution is to use its unique Greenergy Box technology whilst Schneider acts as a grid integrator.

Frederic Abbal, EVP of Energy Business at Schneider Electric was optimistic about what the partnership would bring. “This agreement will create a robust commercial partnership for deploying an innovative solution in energy storage.”

The Greenergy Box is comprised of a fuel cell and an electrolyser. Through the process of water electrolysis energy is stored in the fuel cell during periods of low energy demand. Electricity flows onto the grid during periods of peak usage.

This technology was first used in 2011 for a demo project in Corsica where it was connected to a 560kW solar PV plant. Areva and Schneider intend to set up another 35kW solar project in in the south of France.

While much of the focus of the world’s growing energy storage market still focuses on conventional chemical batteries, the Areva/Schneider partnership is a reminder that there still remains significant interest in fuel cell technology.

As an energy storage technology, fuel cells offer many of the same promises as batteries: improved electricity grid resilience (especially in remote areas), ‘smoothing’ of power from variable energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as potentially energy bill savings for end users.

Top image: Areva Greenergy Box, via Areva

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