Laboratory scale hybrid hydrogen micro-grid systems

December 7th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Technology integration process improvement, Whole supply chain, Energy systems integration

Lead Organisation:
Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Swinburne University of Technology, Deakin University, Future Energy Exports CRC, Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)


Start date:
September 2019

Completion date:
Estimated December 2024

Key contacts:
Lead Investigator: Associate Professor Jonathan Love –
Laboratory Manager: Navin Bhardwaj

Cash: AUD$329,000 (combination of QUT, Australian Government and contract funds)
In-kind contribution: AUD$393,000

Project total cost:
AUD$712,000 (combined cash and in-kind)

Project summary description:
This project is a laboratory scale hybrid hydrogen micro-grid system with associated technologies and practices. The system consists of: PV panel emulator, lithium-ion battery, maximum power point tracker (MPPT), multiple electrolysers (alkaline and PEM) and fuel cell (PEM).

The PV emulator supplies power to a 360W MPPT battery charge controller that ensures a 12V, 60Ah Lithium-Ion battery is charged in an optimal manner without being over- or under-charged. The charge controller also services an inverter supplied AC powered 300W PEM or alkaline electrolyser. Two additional grid connected electrolysers of similar power rating can be connected with produced hydrogen distributed to a gas panel housed within an actively ventilated fume hood.

The gas panel houses hydrogen storage (at 4bar) with various instrumentation supplying hydrogen to a 150W PEM fuel cell that can be optionally configured to either charge a 12V battery or emulate regenerated power export to the grid through a DC load emulator. This hybrid power and hydrogen microgrid mirrors the H2Xport pilot plant located at Redlands and can be used as the test bed prior to translating learnings to the larger pilot plant at ~50kW scale.

The microgrid enables testing of the concept Adaptive Renewable Energy Plant at a laboratory scale. The microgrid was developed as a lab-scale model for studying the production and consumption of green hydrogen. Current research is focussed on:

  • Improving the overall solar-to-hydrogen efficiency,
  • Reducing the cost of generated green hydrogen, and
  • Improving the microgrid stability and reliability.

Energy flow through the microgrid is managed through several feedback control loops that are programmed to prioritise energy storage, export or consumption based on an algorithm that seeks to minimise the cost of hydrogen while delivering a minimum committed volume on a daily basis.

This project progressed slowly in 2019-2021 due to requirements related to laboratory space access, reconfiguration/refurbishment of laboratory services and installation of appropriate safety procedures. Procurement of equipment and related resources occurred in 2020-21.

Since that time, the complete system (in minimal viable configuration) has been commissioned and utilised for ongoing HDR student projects including:

  • Construction or modification of AC and/or DC functionality for system components,
  • Impact of power converters on the degradation of the electrolysers,
  • Evaluation of equipment performance with relation to nominal specifications,
  • Renewable energy management and process engineering related to dynamic behaviour impact on battery and electrolyser performance and lifetimes,
  • Integration of novel materials for water electrolysis such as membranes and electrodes and new electrolyser stack designs,
  • Integration of water treatment solutions and impact studies of water purity on water electrolysis performance,
  • Development of control algorithms, and
  • Digital models for continued analysis of system performance. The digital twin developed in this laboratory will link with the Redlands hydrogen pilot plant and with a similar laboratory at SUT.

Related publications and key links:
Boulaire, J. Love, I.D.R. Mackinnon “An adaptive renewable energy Plant (AREP)-To power local premises and vehicles with 100% renewables” Energy Strategy Reviews 38, 100703, 1-12, 2021.

H. V. Patel, S. A. Gorji, S. S. M. Shahi and J. G. Love, “Implementation of a Lab-Scale Green Hydrogen Production System with Solar PV Emulator and Energy Storage System”, Presented at 11th International Conference on Power and Energy Systems (ICPES), pp. 201-208, 2021. doi: 10.1109/ICPES53652.2021.9683797.

Bhardwaj, J. Love, S. Gorji, A. O’Mullane, “Scaling electrochemical energy conversion materials for renewable hydrogen energy production”. Presented at Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) National Congress 2022, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, pp. 3–8, July 2022.

A. Gorji, “Reconfigurable Quadratic Converters for Electrolyzers Utilized in DC Microgrids,” in IEEE Access, Vol. 10, pp. 109677-109687, 2022. doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3214581.

A. Gorji and H. Gholizadeh, “A Modified Positive Output Super-Lift Luo DC-DC Converter with Improved Voltage Boost Ability,” 2022 5th International Conference on Renewable Energy and Power Engineering (REPE), 282-286, 2022. doi: 10.1109/REPE55559.2022.9949453.

Hakemi, S. A. Gorji, D. Sera, J. Walker, “DZ-Source Converter: A Duality Inspiration of Z-Source Converter for Current-Source High-Conversion Ratio Applications” IEEE ECCE 2022 (USA-Detroit), October 2022.

Ganjavi, S. Gorji, A. Hakemi, A. Moradi, D. Sera, “Design and Implementation of an SiC-based 48 V-380 V Dual Active Bridge DC-DC Converter for Batteries Employed in Green Hydrogen Microgrids” IEEE SPEC 2022 (Fiji), December 2022.

Moradi, S. Gorji, A. Hakemi, A. Ganjavi, D. Sera, “Study of a DC Micro-Gird Configuration to Produce Hydrogen (DCMG-H2)”, 2022 IEEE 7th Southern Power Electronics Conference (SPEC), Nadi, Fiji, 2022, pp. 1-5, doi: 10.1109/SPEC55080.2022.10058435.

Higher degree studies supported:
Six higher degree students currently supported.
Three research fellows/associates currently supported.
Seven higher degree students and four research fellows previously supported by facilities.


Updated: June 2023