ITM Power announced last week advances that could (might?) represent a breakthrough moment when it comes to home hydrogen production.
The 29 June progress report (pdf) cites progress in two arenas:
- A Home Electrolyser: “to convert renewable or off peak electricity into hydrogen” When it comes to this, ITM is claiming that they are ahead of schedule, having now met their December 2007 test schedule and stating that “this programme was accelerated … for 2008 factory production units.”
Thus, to make it clear, ITM Power Plc is stating that they plan to have home electrolyser’s for hydrogen production coming off the factory line sometime next year.
But, what is the use of that hydrogen? What is that utility?
- BiFuel Car: ITM has a duel fuel (gasoline, hydrogen) vehicle that they are road testing. This hybrid can do 25 miles on its hydrogen before switching to gasoline.
Considering that most driving is less than 25 miles per day, even this limited range provides a path (like with Plug-In Electric Vehicles) for moving from gasoline to electrical power. The key question will become: which is operational and fiscally the most effective way to move from fossil fuel to electricity based (whether electric battery or hydrogen produced with electricity) transportation.
But, ITM Power has a greater vision, as can be seen in this recent journal article: Implementation and control of electrolysers to achieve high penetrations of renewable power. This views electrolysers as a key path for dealing with the intermittency challenge. Again, a great vision but the financial, infrastructure, and technical challenges must be judged against alternatives.
But, home electrolysers coming off the factory line next year: Could that be a breakthrough event?