Swedish Housing Block Powered 100 Percent by Sun and Hydrogen

The world's first energy self-sufficient housing complex located in Vårgårda, Sweden, now runs entirely on solar energy and stored hydrogen as the result of a Danish-Swedish partnership between Better Energy and Nilsson Energy.
Swedish Housing Block Powered 100 Percent by Sun and Hydrogen
Courtesy of Better Energy

The solar-hydrogen Vårgårda project in Sweden is a breakthrough in clean energy and sustainable building. When the complex is completed and fully operational, a total of 172 flats in six housing blocks will be capable of operating completely free from external energy sources. Residents will be 100 percent independent and disconnected from electrical power grids, outside heating sources and fluctuating electricity prices. The rooftop solar PV panels alone will produce enough energy to meet their power needs year-round.

The challenge of renewable energy is that energy production and consumer demand do not always match. To overcome this challenge, a long-term storage solution is needed to provide electricity and heat when the sun shines less. By storing surplus energy in the form of hydrogen, solar-hydrogen projects offer a 100 percent clean, green, long-term storage solution.

Hydrogen gas has the largest energy content of any fuel, which means that a small amount of hydrogen can store a large amount of energy. Hydrogen is also chemically stable and can store energy for long periods of time. In a solar-hydrogen system, energy from the sun can be harnessed and stored for later use, producing only oxygen and pure water as waste products.

“Ironically, our solution involves the limitless energy of the sun and the simplest, lightest, most abundant element on Earth, hydrogen. Resources and technologies right in front of us. We’re just combining them in a new, clean and extremely efficient manner. It’s brilliantly simple,” explains EVP Sales, Nicolai Faaborg Andresen, Better Energy.

Electricity production from hydrogen is not new, but Better Energy and Nilsson Energy are combining their engineering know-how in the world's first large-scale system with a renewable energy source.

Solar panels on the Vårgårda housing block soak up sunlight and convert it into energy. Surplus energy passes through an inverter and is collected in a battery that is used to power an electrolyzer. The electrolyzer produces hydrogen gas by splitting water molecules into the base elements of hydrogen and oxygen. 

The hydrogen is compressed to 300 bar and stored in a pressure tank. When energy is needed, the hydrogen can be converted cleanly and efficiently back into electricity by way of a hydrogen fuel cell. The only emissions from the system are oxygen and pure water.

“There is no doubt that solar-hydrogen solutions can help decarbonize future energy systems. Hydrogen storage enables renewable energy integration and increases system resilience,” concluded CEO Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær, Better Energy.

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Looking to replicate on a larger scale for 1,400,000 connections in SEQ Australian, with signification volumes of supplementary energy production, storage (battery and Hydro Pump/Storage), plus hydrogen production and energy management. Positioned 20 to 70 km from the customers - macro-grid. The design will support the early retirement of significant high cost transmission inter/intra connectors.
mohammad amin tahavori
it seems very strange to me. If you check the available solar power in this city during a year, it is almost nothing and it means that a large area is needed to produce enough electricity to meet the demand of the households.!!!!!!!!!
Such a system could be used in conjunction with onboard wind power (ie. modern sails etc) to propel large cargo vessels-a large source of CO2.
Stewart K Eastman
This seems a much better use of hydrogen than the idea of powering cars with it. Having the solar power make the hydrogen in the same place it is to be used eliminates the entire problem of hydrogen filling stations, and prevents hydrogen from being supplied from fossil fuel sources.
Wonderfull. How much does cost that energy system by flat? Please in US$ and in percentage of the cost of a normal apartment.
Yup, I\'d also be interested to know if it is more cost effective than batteries in the medium term (15 years say).
What are the economics of this system? 300 bars is very robust storage tank. Is the storage tank safe? Please give more information on the hydrogen gas storage system.
Nicholas picture how large the Tesla batteries should be to store energy during summer to use it during winter. In Sweden.
Could also use Tesla batteries at a ly lower cost.
How expensive this system is and when is going to be available worldwide?
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