Maryland: Vote for OGZEB!

OGZEB? WTF?

OGZEB stands for “off-grid zero-emissions building.” And it’s already here.

OGZEB is a project of Florida State University’s Energy and Sustainability Center and uses the LEED system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Along with passive solar design features, OGZEB uses solar PV to generate electricity which is stored using a hydrogen system:

The OGZEB will use the excess energy produced by the photovoltaic (PV) panels, also known as solar panels, to produce hydrogen.  This hydrogen will be produced using a highly efficient water electrolysis device that is currently being developed at the Sustainable Energy Science and Engineering Center (SESEC).  It will be stored until energy is required by the house, at which time the hydrogen will be fed to an innovative fuel cell, which is also being developed at SESEC. The fuel cell will convert the hydrogen to the energy that the house needs.  This project will not be the first to use hydrogen as an energy storage medium, but it will be the first to employ innovative and affordable hydrogen technologies that are being developed at FSU and not currently commercially available.

The house can store about 30 days’ worth of hydrogen, more than enough to get through a cloudy week.

The Baltimore Sun reported the cost to be $575,000.  Back-of-the-envelope says that’s about two to three times as expensive as a comparable grid-connected house.  That’s before you factor in zero energy bills — forever.

So the technology is here.  It will get cheaper and better through innovation and manufacturing improvements — learning by doing.  The real substitute for fossil fuels like coal is not simply more nukes or more renewables.  Instead, the real substitutes are innovation, engineering and manufacturing.  These will improve renewables and increase energy efficiency.  By directing talented young people into these activities we can secure our future and avoid wasteful investments in hugely expensive nuclear power stations, coal-by-wire transmission projects and destructive mountaintop removal.

Actually, it’s not much of a choice.  Maryland, and our neighbors in Virginia and West Virginia, can pretend that these innovations are not happening. But it is happening…in Florida and all around the world.  The technology will advance no matter what we in Maryland, Virginia or West Virginia, do.  The only question is how far behind we will be when we finally wake up.

We can continue to invest in obsolete fossil-fuel infrastructure because that’s what the industry lobbyists and their politician friends tell us to do.  The barriers to the low-carbon economy of the future are not technological or economic.  The main barrier is political.

The best reason to vote for OGZEB?  No need to worry about grid-transmitted blackouts!

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