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The first major snowstorm of 2021 brought power outages in New Jersey, a state of emergency in 44 counties in New York state and the largest recorded snowfall at Chicago O’Hare Airport since 2015. Major airlines canceled service to most NYC airports and Pennsylvania also expected heavy snowstorms according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The White House staff made contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to monitor the storm.
Unsurprisingly, the economic impact of severe weather events in conjunction with power outages is substantial. A report by FEMA that assessed the scale of the damage from power outages estimated that around 40-60% of small businesses close permanently after a storm and that 90% of businesses which close for just five days following an extreme weather event, eventually fail within a year. A report conducted by the Congressional Research Service concluded that weather-related outages cost the U.S. as much as $70 billion annually. Faced every year with heavy snowstorms, hurricanes and other severe weather incidents that cause frequent shutdowns and blackouts, power utilities across the U.S. require resilient backup power to weather the storms.
Given that the United States is enduring progressively severe natural weather events with every year that passes, power utilities must invest in resilient backup power technologies to avoid outages and restore power as quickly as possible when outages occur. For this reason, smart utilities are today deploying weather-resistant fuel cells that also extend the duration of their substation battery backup.
By design, typically substations are equipped with backup lead acid batteries that open up circuit breakers upon sensing a power loss. These batteries provide backup power to substations’ critical systems to minimize power disruption and the high costs associated with energy blackouts as well as to enable a quicker return to power once the grid returns. But batteries have a critical weakness: a typical battery room can only provide backup power for four to eight hours. In many cases, this is simply not enough time for the grid to return and for the field engineers to fix damaged power lines and equipment. To overcome the power shortfall, a utility could either install more space-intensive battery rooms or rely on diesel generators.
Alkaline fuel cells offer a cleaner, quieter solution with a smaller footprint; they produce auxiliary power that kicks in automatically should the grid go down and provide quick start-up once the power outage ends. Fueled by standard cylinders of industrial-grade hydrogen, fuel cells emit no CO2 and run ten times longer than traditional backup power sources. In addition to being extremely-weather resistant and resilient, fuel cells are extremely low-maintenance solutions. They can also be installed with remote management software that leverages IoT sensors to analyze and monitor remote substations’ performance from a central location. In this way they can provide full visibility into system health and always show the duration of backup power available to each substation. Because they substantially extend battery run-time, fuel cells give the utility’s maintenance team enough time to restore power to all customers of a substation—not just the critical ones. Having this extended runtime significantly reduces the stress level for the utilities’ technical and maintenance teams.
Another reason that utilities appreciate fuel cell backup solutions is the fact that they are a clean source of energy. In contrast to diesel generators with CO2 emissions, fuel cells emit only water. They help utilities to comply with climate directives and meet with the approval of many environmentally-oriented consumers. Challenged each year by more inclement weather and increasingly severe storms, U.S. power utilities can optimize their auxiliary power systems with alkaline fuel cells for resilient, long-duration and emission-free backup power.
VP Products Development
In a world where sustainable energy sources are gaining prominence, fuel cells have emerged as a promising technology that could revolutionize the way we generate electricity.
Among the various types of fuel cells, hydrogen fuel cells have garnered significant attention due to their efficiency and eco-friendly nature. One company at the forefront of this energy revolution is Gencell, a pioneering force in hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Fuel cells, in essence, are electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, into electricity without combustion. Unlike traditional power sources that rely on fossil fuels, fuel cells offer a clean alternative that produces only water vapor and heat as byproducts. This characteristic makes them highly attractive for addressing the global challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Gencell has embraced this green vision and is dedicated to developing innovative solutions based on hydrogen fuel cells. The company focuses on solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, which offers numerous advantages over other types of fuel cells. SOFCs operate at high temperatures, typically between 500 and 1,000 degrees Celsius, enabling efficient conversion of fuel into electricity. This high operating temperature also allows for the use of various hydrocarbon fuels, including natural gas and biogas, in addition to hydrogen.
One of the key strengths of Gencell’s fuel cell technology lies in its robustness and durability. The company has developed unique, long-lasting fuel cell stacks that can operate for extended periods without degradation. This reliability is crucial for widespread adoption of fuel cells in applications such as backup power systems, where continuous and uninterrupted electricity supply is essential.
Gencell’s fuel cell solutions cater to a range of industries and sectors. Their prime offering is the G5 backup power system, designed specifically for telecommunications infrastructure. In a world driven by connectivity, maintaining uninterrupted communication is vital, especially during power outages. The G5 system ensures reliable and efficient power backup, providing telecom providers with a sustainable solution that aligns with their commitment to reducing carbon footprints.
Furthermore, Gencell’s fuel cell technology extends beyond backup power systems. The company is actively involved in developing solutions for off-grid and remote power generation, as well as applications in the transportation sector. Fuel cell-powered vehicles hold great potential for decarbonizing transportation, offering longer ranges and shorter refueling times compared to battery-electric vehicles.
To facilitate the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology, Gencell is not only focusing on technological advancements but also on building a comprehensive ecosystem. The company offers end-to-end solutions that encompass fuel cell systems, fuel supply, installation, maintenance, and support. This holistic approach ensures a seamless transition for customers and contributes to the overall growth of the fuel cell industry.
Gencell’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its product offerings. The company embraces a circular economy approach, actively seeking partnerships with suppliers and customers to establish a closed-loop system for fuel cells. By recycling and reusing materials, Gencell aims to minimize waste and maximize the environmental benefits of their technology.
As the world strives for a cleaner and greener future, Gencell stands as a pioneering force, driving the energy revolution through hydrogen fuel cells. With their robust and durable fuel cell technology, the company is transforming industries by offering sustainable solutions for backup power, off-grid applications, and transportation. Gencell’s comprehensive approach and commitment to a circular economy demonstrate their dedication to not only developing advanced fuel cell technology but also ensuring its long-term viability and positive environmental impact.
In the pursuit of a sustainable and carbon-neutral future, Gencell’s hydrogen fuel cells are lighting the way, illuminating a path towards a cleaner and more energy-efficient world.