GenCell’s secret for hydrogen world domination

GenCell fuel cell technology is being used for San Diego Gas & Electric substation backup power in California. Pic: GenCell Israel.

GenCell fuel cell technology is being used for San Diego Gas & Electric substation backup power in California. Pic: GenCell Israel.

By Jason Deign

GenCell, an Israeli fuel-cell maker, yesterday trumpeted a major win as part of an under-the-radar strategy to get utilities relying more on hydrogen.

The company said San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the Californian utility, would be installing GenCell G5rx fuel cells for substation backup power.

Bloomberg reported the deal would cover an initial three substations, with 27 more to follow within three years. SDG&E is keen to use fuel cells as a way of extending the backup power capacity at substations.

Backup power is a technical requirement at all utility substations. It is used to keep high-voltage circuit breakers open whenever there is a loss of power on the grid.

Most substations are equipped with lead-acid battery arrays that can supply backup power for up to eight hours. Beyond this, the utility usually has to switch to an alternative power source, such as a diesel genset. 
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HyperSolar moves along lonely path to hydrogen

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

By Jason Deign

US-listed technology firm HyperSolar is looking to develop a commercial-scale solar-powered hydrogen generation system after unveiling a working prototype last month.

The Santa Barbara, California-based company is hoping to give the hydrogen fuel cell industry a boost by removing one of hydrogen’s biggest problems: having to transport the gas over long distances.

Hydrogen “is expensive enough in the manufacturing process,” said Tim Young, president and CEO. “When you add on trucking it 500 miles in a pressurised truck, it stops making economical sense.”

Being able to manufacture hydrogen on site, using water and sunlight, could eliminate these costs and open up a vast array of potential energy applications, Young told Energy Storage Report.

These include “thousands and thousands of backup power plants” that “would all love to be hydrogen powered” because the fuel can be stored indefinitely until needed, he said. 
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ITM flounders in wake of Arup hydrogen deal

ITM Power share price slides, despite the announcement of a collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners on hydrogen refuelling stations and hydrogen power systems. Photo credit: ITM Power

ITM Power share price slides, despite the announcement of a collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners on hydrogen refuelling stations and hydrogen power systems. Photo: ITM Power

By Jason Deign

A deal with engineering and consultancy giant Ove Arup & Partners last week has not prevented hydrogen systems developer ITM Power from sliding in value.

Arup’s memorandum of understanding should have been an end-of-year fillip for ITM Power, but investors on the UK’s Alternative Investment Market punished the company by driving stock levels to their lowest level all year.

As Energy Storage Report went to press the stock was trading at under GBP£22 a share. The stock fell more than 5% the day after the Arup announcement.

At that point the company, which now has a market capitalisation of £38.5m, had lost almost a quarter of its value since May.

“It currently has negative earnings,” noted FinancialMagazin.com, a Belize-based financial intelligence platform.
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Checking up on the storage start-up scene

We review the energy storage investment opportunities offered by startups at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona – including Atawey, which has developed a hydrogen fuel cell system targeted at mobile base stations with McPhy Energy.

The energy storage investment opportunities offered at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona included Atawey’s hydrogen fuel cell system, developed with McPhy Energy. Photo credit: Atawey

What companies would you put your money in if you were a clean-tech angel investor looking to back an energy storage start-up? With plenty of young businesses out there crying for cash, it is not like you would be stuck for choice.

But, as Energy Storage Report found out last week at the KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster in Barcelona, selecting a winner is not that easy… because there are so many good ideas to choose from.

The Business Booster was a two-day event where start-ups from a range of energy-related fields set out to woo an audience including nine angel investors and three venture capital firms. Five electricity storage hopefuls took the stage during the event.

Enerstone, of France, opened the storage track with a pitch for an ingenious battery management system that extends lifetimes and cycle rates by adjusting the draw on each cell to lessen the impact of weaker cells.
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Energy storage news: 23.07.14

Researchers at Rutgers have developed a catalyst based on carbon nanotubes that could replace platinum in hydrogen fuel production from water.

Researchers at Rutgers have developed a catalyst based on carbon nanotubes that could replace platinum in hydrogen fuel production from water. Photo credit: Tewodros Asefa

This week’s energy storage news headlines from our Twitter feed.

  • The Society of Automotive Engineers has finalised a new hydrogen fueling standard for light-duty vehicles: SAE J2601.
  • As Poland debates new renewable energy legislation, a Polish Energy Storage Association is being formed, in order to promote the importance of energy storage legislation.

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Areva boosts energy storage business

One of many Areva energy storage systems and technologies, the Greenergy Box consists of an electrolyser and a fuel cell. It stores hydrogen and oxygen generated by water electrolysis, allowing grid stabilisation. Photo credit: Areva

One of many Areva energy storage systems and technologies, the Greenergy Box consists of an electrolyser and a fuel cell. It stores hydrogen and oxygen generated by water electrolysis, allowing grid stabilisation. Photo credit: Areva

Areva is poised to announce its first major energy storage deal in Germany, according to Rémi Coulon, chief commercial officer at the company’s Renewables division. “We are about to announce our first client in Germany after having clients in France,” he told Energy Storage Report. “Germany is of course a key market for storage, it is where we see the most need. We are fine-tuning the press release.”
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Energy storage in port operations

Joe Pratt studies hydrogen fuel cell energy storage in ports at the Port of Oakland, California. Photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Joe Pratt studies hydrogen fuel cell energy storage in ports at the Port of Oakland, California. Photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories

A hidden challenge for renewable energy, in terms of carbon reductions at least, is making sure your cure is not more damaging than your disease. Many types of renewable power plants, for example, contain large amounts of concrete and cement, the production of which involves significant greenhouse gas emissions.

The emissions involved in construction, from concrete or other sources, seem rarely to be included in calculations of the environmental benefit arising from renewable energy. Yet it is not inconceivable that a wasteful enough construction process might produce more carbon emissions than a project could save over its operating lifespan.
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Encouraging signs for fuel cells

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) and GM are jointly testing fuel cells. Photo credit: General Motors

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) and GM are jointly testing fuel cells. Photo credit: General Motors

Last week we took a look at fuel-cell vehicles and concluded that, although they represent an exciting future prospect, they are unlikely to make a big impact any time soon. When we turn to non-vehicle fuel cell energy storage, the signs are much more promising, as we’ll see in this concluding part of our analysis.
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