Connecticut backs fuel cell energy plants

How Fuel Cells Work

Seven fuel cell plants will be built in Connecticut soon, including some of the biggest such plants in the world, which will supply 70 megawatts, enough to power 60,000 homes. The state will buy the energy at 5.5 cents per kilowatt over wholesale to help boost fuel cell technology and make the state a showcase for it.

Two major fuel cell companies, Fuel Cell Energy and UTC Power, are based in Connecticut and will be building the plants.

Fuel cells are unobtrusive and are small, so they can be put anywhere. They output little pollution and create energy efficiently by a chemical reaction from hydrogen and oxygen. In this case, they will use natural gas as the feedstock, so it won’t be true renewal energy, but this is a huge step forward and one that will be widely watched to see if fuel cells can work on a mass level.

As an aside, the holy grail here is fuel cell energy from renewable sources, something that is quite possible using solar-powered fuel cells placed in deserts.

(Would it be that Connecticut was always so progressive – see the following post)

[tags]fuel cells[/tags]

  • Kathy Wandelmaier

    I just did some quick web research to see what options are out there for residential fuel cell systems. My quick conclusion is that fuel cell mfgrs. are focusing on larger applications rather than smaller units, although I don’t see why this has to be the case. I already looked at going solar, but our roofline and house orientation made the payback period too long. I am not convinced we would get back our investment if we had to sell. Back to fuel cells – seems to me that the billions of $ that have already been invested in the electricity distribution grid are going to keep the brakes on the spread of fuel cell usage in individual homes. As I undersstand it one of the advantages of fuel cells is that you don’t need huge plants in order to have an efficient system, so no need for a huge distribution system or its attached costs. I’m not saying there is a conspiracy – I’m not inclined to buy into conspiracy theories- it’s just that I have a hard time believing utility companies are not lobbying hard to protect their investments in the grid. ANyway, if anyone knows who has a fuel cell system suitable for residential use that doesn’t cost a fortune, speak up. I would seriously consider it.

  • There is one company in the world that I’ve found that is focused on fuel cells for the home. The company is Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited

    I wrote my Masters Essay on this very subject. The problem is the politicians and their ties with oil along with their basic lack of understanding of new concepts including fuel cells and the power grid itself. If they could grasp just a small portion of the idea of decentralized power then we could press forward and you would have one avaialble for your home.

    The ideal system for in home use is the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell.

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