Hyped hydrogen storage company opts to manufacture fuel cells near Brisbane


LAVO Hydrogen Technology, the company bringing to market green hydrogen energy storage systems (HESS) developed at the University of New South Wales, has today announced it will establish a $15 million fuel cell manufacturing facility in Greater Springfield, just south of Brisbane. 

LAVO’s ‘green hydrogen batteries’ containerise metal hydride to store hydrogen’s energy. Coupled with rooftop solar, the systems can store 40 kWh of electricity, with LAVO describing its product as the first and only commercial-ready hydrogen energy storage system in the world designed for everyday use by residential homes and businesses.

LAVO will establish itself in Queensland with the help of the state government, which is supporting the manufacturing facility through its Invested in Queensland program, though it is unclear whether the state will front the full $15 million budget.

How the LAVO hydrogen energy storage system works.

Image: LAVO

Construction of the new facility is set to begin in early 2022 with delivery as early as the end of that year. Manufacturing will begin there under a joint venture agreement LAVO has with Netherlands-based company Nedstack, which develops polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology.

While this facility will focus on producing fuel cells, LAVO is expected develop “more advanced manufacturing capabilities” in Queensland by 2024, including the assembly of additional hydrogen-based powered units and other hydrogen components such as electrolysers and hydride vessel production. The company chose to set up its manufacturing base in Springfield following two years of negotiating with Trade and Investment Queensland, which sought to attract the company to the state.

Queensland, an in demand destination

Queensland’s lobbying seems to be working rather well as the news of LAVO’s manufacturing plans come less than a week after Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) progressed its manufacturing ambitions in the state. FFI received its planning approval for its 2 GW electrolyser factory at Gladstone on Queensland’s southern coast just five weeks after it announced the plan, a wildly fast turnaround.

FFI, chaired by billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, is also planning to build a 1 GW solar PV module manufacturing plant in Queensland, though the exact location is yet to be determined.

LAVO CEO and Executive Director Alan Yu with the hydrogen storage canisters that make LAVO safe — fire resistant — and compact.

Image: LAVO

Back to LAVO, the company’s CEO and Executive Director, Alan Yu, said it will work to maximise the use of local suppliers in the manufacturing process and will be supplying both domestic and international markets across the residential, off-grid, telecommunications and commercial sectors.

Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Treasury, Charis Mullen, said LAVO’s decision was a vote of confidence in the region, which is aiming to become a hydrogen superpower. “This is an Australian-first and could be one of the largest hydrogen fuel cell facilities in the southern hemisphere, so it’s great news for workers and our community,” Mullen said.

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