LAVO Scores $5 Million Grant For Home Hydrogen Battery Production

Lavo battery grant

The NSW government has reportedly provided a significant grant to a local company manufacturing a unique hydrogen-based energy storage system for homes and businesses.

In a nutshell, the LAVO battery produces hydrogen from tap water with an electrolyser, a process powered by solar panels. It stores the hydrogen in patented metal hydride units and converts it back into AC power on demand via a fuel cell.

LAVO has a usable capacity of 40kWh, with an output rating of 5kW continuous and a peak output of 6.8kW. As a comparison, the Tesla Powerwall has 13.5kWh capacity. But the extra storage capacity doesn’t come cheap, with the original LAVO costing around $34,750 and the 2022 edition (all spoken for) still a rather pricey $29,450 before installation.

The battery is a fairly hefty beast, with dimensions of 1680 x 1240 x 400 mm and weighing in at 196 kg. But the Tesla Powerwall is no lightweight either at 114kg – and LAVO works out to be much lighter than three of those.

LAVO says the metal hydride unit that absorbs the hydrogen for storage will last three times longer than similarly priced lithium-ion batteries; so around 30 years – but the warranty on the hydride is only 10 years. The system also incorporates a small lithium-ion battery for fast response time.

The company says a bathtub of water “could power the house for 2 weeks”. So, how much water is that? It depends on the bath, but anywhere from 135 – 410 litres. At the upper end of the range, that’s about a buck’s worth of water. The company recommends using potable water as hard or dirty water will result in the filters and RO membrane needing to be replaced more often, and that’s another ongoing cost to consider.

The round trip efficiency of the LAVO unit is approximately 50% due to energy being lost in the process of electrolysis and at the fuel cell.

If you want to learn more about this interesting battery, how it works and the company behind it (and what’s with the name) , check out Ronald’s LAVO battery review.

Lucky In LAVO

LAVO has generated a lot of interest and it was revealed yesterday by the Newcastle Herald (paywall) the company has received backing from the NSW State Government in the form of a $5 million grant from its $130 million Regional Job Creation Fund.

The Fund offers up to $10 million in co-funding to activate or accelerate regional projects in engine, enabling or emerging engine industries. The NSW Government describes an engine industry as:

“Engine industries vary by region, normally have a competitive advantage and tend to trade their goods outside the local area or sell their services to non-locals.”

As for how many jobs will be created, the Fund’s web site notes the NSW Government contribution “will be no more than $20,000 per new job created through the project.” That would work out to at least 250 jobs.

LAVO’s head office is in Sydney, but its battery manufacturing is carried out in Tomago, an industrial/semi-rural suburb of the Port Stephens local government area in the Hunter region.

Commenting on the LAVO cash, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said:

“The grant to LAVO is an example of how we are supporting the Hunter position itself in the hydrogen industry, create jobs and ensure our future as a major energy exporter.”

There will be a bunch of new LAVO jobs generated further north as well. In November last year, the company announced it will also be establishing a $15 million factory to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells in Queensland. The Palaszczuk Government is supporting the project under the Invested in Queensland program. Construction of the new facility is to begin in early 2022 and expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Related: Solar Battery Storage Explained.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. It would be interesting to see if something like this could produce something with the excess power like ammonia or liquid H2 but I suppose you would need some expensive gear to make / store it in a large enough amounts to make it worth while doing anything with. (I am assuming it will be harder to find good FITs in the future)

    I wonder if any like what i said could be added in an commercial system.

  2. Robert Williams says

    The business case for an expensive and inefficient battery eludes me.

    I’d genuinely be grateful if someone can illuminate. Otherwise I’m guessing it’s a marginal electorate or a way of diverting renewal energy investment away from leftie, greenie, Scandinavian schoolgirl ventures that might actually work.

    By the way: is it deliberate that the list of four rules has five items? I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition!

    • For that round trip, and cost it would be cheaper (better?) to buy a VRLA bank of 2V cells and a decent active balance BMS.

      The other question for efficency, do I put in 60kWh and get back 30kWh, put in 40kWh and get back 20, or put in 30kWh and get back 15?

      I don’t understand the hype around Hydrogen, other than situations where a high density is required (heavy trucking, locomotive).

      I could see a niche use as inter-seasonal storage at an off grid/RAPS site, replacing the need for a generator.

      • I dont be leave there is enough lithium to put batteries in every car, let alone on the sides of houses as well. Alternatives need to be found, even if less efficient. Hydrogen seems to be a usable option.

        • “Lithium itself is not scarce. A June report by BNEF2 estimated that the current reserves of the metal — 21 million tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey — are enough to carry the conversion to EVs through to the mid-century.”

          Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough? – Nature

      • Randy Wester says

        The LAVO is a combination of 5 KWh lithium battery and 35 KWh hydrogen storage. I think it works like this:

        If you put in 5 KWh, you get back 5 KWh less a little charging loss.

        If you put in another 7 KWh, you could get back 3.5 KWh of it.

        If you put in another 63 KWh, you should get back 35 KWh of it.

        So if you put in a total of 75 KWh you should get back 40 KWh.

        I would only invest in one of these units if it had the capability of adding additional tanks, and if it was impractical to connect to the power grid. And if I lived somewhere this unit could be installed outside without freezing.

  3. Keith Fincher says

    From an energy efficiency perspective it probably makes more sense to have grid storage rather than lots of small batteries. Renewable energy will be generated somewhere but perhaps not at your place.
    Hydrogen is not the only way to store electricity but if hydrogen is mentioned governments are happy to throw taxpayers’ money at these projects.
    Aluminum should be seriously considered as a method of storing electricity.
    It’s energy density both on a volumetric and mass basis is greater than hydrogen and approximates fossil fuels. Aluminum is easy to store. The infrastructure to produce aluminum is already well integrated into the grid with smelters consuming approximately 10% of the electricity supply. If a suitable aluminum/air fuel cell (battery) was located near a smelter aluminum could be made when electricity was abundant and consumed when electricity was in demand. The aluminum oxide produced in the fuel cell would be recycled through the smelter Smelters already adjust production to level out electricity demand and this process would further increase their role. Data indicates that this process in the worst case would have an efficiency similar to the hydrogen cycle but could be significantly more efficient using best practice in smelters.

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