Sounds like this guy has built a system that uses solar power to run his home and on days when the solar energy availible exceeds his useage, it's creating hydrogen by electrolosis. That hydrogen is used to power his car and a generator for cloudy days.
Sounds pretty smart, although it's a very expensive system. I've always said that the problem with hydrogen is that you have to use a lot of electricity to make it. Using solar for that process makes it much better for the environment, even if it is less efficient.
1. What's the environmental cost to build such a system? How much 'greenhouse' gas is produced to manufacture solar cells? What about other noxious stuff? Semicon manufacturing is a pretty filthy process.
2. At the lowest projected cost, $50,000 for system + $80,000 for solar cells = $130,000. Now how much is your monthly energy bill (gas, electric, etc). Lets assume that cost is $1,000 a month. It's going to take 10 years before you see a payoff in the system -- before you get ANY savings out of the purchase. Is there ANY chance that this system is going to need new parts in the span of 10 years? New parts like maybe a new $80,000 solar grid?
3. The bargan basement $130,000 price does not include the fuel cell powered car.
Last edited by 76supercab2; 03-15-2007 at 12:56 PM.
My presonal thought it that he went way overboard on the number of hydrogen storage tanks he needed. But I guess he's got to prove a point and if he ran out it would be bad publicity. The "average" home user who was still connected to the power grid could get away with much less storage.
Also, it's not clear how much he spent on the car and how much on the home. Assuming a hydrogen car was readily availible, that would drop the price quite a bit.
Obviously, at $500k, it's just a 'proof of concept' system, but he thinks the pricetag (w/o solar panels) can be brought down to $50k, which is much more reasonable. As for the efficiency of hydrogen generation, when the energy is free, that's not as big of an issue. An average home user can sell the extra electricity back to the power company, and use only as much electricity for hydrogen generation as needed for the family cars. There are several different types of solar panels with the amorphous ones being the cheapest, but slightly less efficient than other types. They often come with 25 year warranty, but since they contain no moving parts, they should normally last a lot longer. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics
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