Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
Fuel Cells Today
Bob from Dallas frequently sends me e-mails discussing his favorite topic: the continuing evolution of Fuel Cells. I read with interest a 36 page article by Joel N. Swisher, Ph.D., P.E. of the Rocky Mountain Institute. Dr. Swisher states that fuel cells can be cost-effective today in certain applications even at their present costs. The main benefits of fuel cell technology can be utilized in five different general applications:
The small scale and modularity of fuel cells offer the ability to put in place as little or as much generating capacity as needed.
Fuel cells can provide substantial cost savings if they are placed where they will defer investments in extra public utility capacity.
Used as an UPS, A fuel cell can provide a benefit by reducing losses due to power spikes and outages as well as improved voltage levels, power factors, and longer equipment life to sensitive equipment.
By providing an independent power source near the customer, a fuel cell can improve the reliability of electric service to critical customer loads. Premium reliability can have a very high value in such sensitive industries as data centers, semiconductor fabrication, and many other conventional businesses where "down-time" is costly.
Finally, fuel cells are among the cleanest power supply technologies. Their intrinsic lack of environmental impact allow them to be sited very flexibly, for instance, in emission limited areas (such as large concentrated urban centers) or remote areas where there are environmental concerns.
The complete article entitled "Cleaner Energy,Greener Profits: Fuel Cells as Cost-Effective Distributed Energy Resources" is available in Adobe PDF format at: Rocky Mountain Institute
For an up-to-date archive of the latest news regarding fuel cells and their development, visit FuelCells.Org/News