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Hurricane Sandy Fuel Cell Report

I hope everyone living and working in Hurricane Sandy’s path is safe and sound.  We were lucky here in DC area not to be hit as hard as predicted.  Friends and family in NY, NJ and CT are still without power and we hope things get back up and running soon.   Yesterday we received a report from UTC Power, a fuel cell manufacturer in CT, on their fuel cell fleet in the Northeast -

“UTC Power has 23 PureCell System Model 400 fuel cells in the New England and New York area affected by Hurricane Sandy, 16 of which are within the state of Connecticut. All 23 systems are currently up and running either in grid connect or grid independent mode. While one fuel cell in Fairfield, CT shut down during the storm when a fan failed, we repaired the system as soon as it was safe to get a technician to the site and we were able to get the fuel cell restarted while the grid was still out in the area.  The other 22 PureCell Model 400 systems in Connecticut and throughout New England and New York performed as expected during the storm with many units powering our customers even after the grid went down.  As of today, two of our systems are still running in grid independent mode while their respective grids are down.”

We hope to receive other reports of how fuel cells in the area withstood the weather – last year we wrote a memo on how fuel cells performed during Hurricane Irene and Winter storm Alfred.   Both UTC Power and ReliOn, a fuel cell manufacturer with many units providing backup power to telecommunications networks around the country, put out releases on how their units performed during the storms.

We all know the benefits of fuel cells – reliability, efficiency, low-to-zero emissions, etc. but in tragic times like these, some of their other benefits, such as ruggedness, flexible siting (can be installed indoors as well as out) and ability to operate independent of the grid, really stand out.

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  1. November 3, 2012 @ 7:40 am
    Mikal says...

    During the NE Blackout of 2003, the Conde Nast building’s lights stayed on because of their fuel cell and solar power. In Sandy, the Goldman Sachs building’s lights famously stayed on, but I heard no mention of CN. Did its system fail, or was it just not reported, or what?

  2. November 3, 2012 @ 7:44 am
    Mikal says...

    (I should add that the Goldman Sachs building’s power comes from an old-fashioned generator, so it isn’t exactly a shining vision of how to move forward, though it’s a testament to sensible forward thinking and resilience (and money, of course).

  3. November 13, 2012 @ 10:05 am
    Jennifer says... – Fuel Cell Today has a great piece about fuel cells and storms – hopefully more companies will be reporting how their systems fared to help make the case for more!

  4. November 15, 2012 @ 11:35 am
    Jennifer says... – Altergy Systems talking about their units.

  5. November 27, 2012 @ 2:07 pm
    Mark says...

    The Conde Nast building was outside of the affected area. The power outages in Manhattan were predominantly, if not all below 34th street. Conde Nast is on 42nd st and 6th Ave.

  6. November 28, 2012 @ 12:42 pm
    Jennifer says... - Ballard’s 17 ElectraGen™-ME systems, installed in the local telecom network, began operating automatically as grid power was lost when the storm hit October 25th. During the 3 days that Hurricane Sandy passed over the Bahamas, each of the 5 kilowatt systems operated flawlessly as needed to maintain consistent power. As a group, the 17 systems provided the equivalent of one month of backup power over a concentrated 7 day period during and after the storm; producing more than 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

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