Power One´s concept combines wind, water and sun as sources of energy production. This reduces the need for expensive storage. Power One plans to use electrolyte storage, but will also set aside part of the solar park to operate a hydrogen gas production plant, which can be used, among other things, to operate boats. Since Tanganyika Lake is still clean and crystal clear, the electric propulsion of boats is an obvious complement for preserving it undisturbed. At present, there are a number of vessels operating on oil, which are used but have not so far done too much damage. Hydrogen has the advantage of being considerably cheaper as a fuel then fossil fuel, and is therefore an irresistible substitute from all points of view.
Hydrogen can be used for electrically driven transport on both land and water. During manufacture, water is divided into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen gas is collected in tubes and then transformed into electricity via a so-called power cell. With a hydrogen tube, a power cell and an electric motor, many electric vehicles are operated today, ranging from mopeds, cars and trucks to boats. It is a durable and well-proven technology whose only residual product is oxygen and water. Oxygen is used in everything from healthcare to welding and is an import commodity in Burundi. Both oxygen and hydrogen can therefore be sold with good profits for Power One.
Hydrogen is a well-known and reliable energy storage system that has been used in industry for almost a century. The technique is simple: DC voltage produced during the day from solar panels is used in an electrolyser to separate water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O). The non-polluting oxygen is released and the hydrogen is stored under pressure into simple and durable containers. At night, when the sun is on the other side, hydrogen is led into a power cell that melts hydrogen with oxygen from the air back into water. Through this process, energy from daylight is restored back to electricity and used for night consumption.
If the solar park produces more energy under daylight than is consumed during the day and at night, the excess can be used to produce hydrogen for other applications, e.g. transport on the lake. In this case, hydrogen is transferred to gas tubes in the boats and then converted back to electricity via a fuel cell. This then provides electricity to the electric motor in the boat.
This is a very simple, well tested and durable system. With a simple pressure tank, a fuel cell and an electric motor, hydrogen can be used to operate all transport, including air, and today most of the major car manufacturers have developed hydrogen cars. The conversion of the region's boats to hydrogen operation is quite simple and plans are underway to start a rebuilding yard in Kabonga fishing port for this.
- By introducing an environmentally smart and emission-free boat traffic on Lake Tanganyika, Burundi will also market itself in quality tourism and offer an ecological alternative to other countries, says Janvier Nsengiumva, Commercial chief Port of Bujumbura.