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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Can customer batteries provide backup power?

What are the issues for the grid and customers connected with the use of residential battery backup power systems to store solar energy? Photo credit: SolarCity

What are the issues for the grid and customers connected with the use of residential battery backup power systems to store solar energy? Photo credit: SolarCity

By Dr Geoff James
Previously published on www.energystorageforum.com and republished with permission.

Residential customers wanting to manage their power are likely to be the fastest-growing market for energy storage, and especially grid-connected batteries.

So being clear about why these customers have a big appetite for storage will be important for developing the right storage products, services and owner/user experiences. Backup power seems an obvious motivation.

After all, the largest battery installations in the world exist to supply emergency power to secure facilities and data centres.

Residential owners of energy storage will also expect their lights to stay on when the rest of their street is blacked out.

But mass-market storage systems will have different capabilities to large specialised installations, and the energy storage industry should set realistic expectations so that early adopters of residential storage are not disappointed.
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