Fuel Cells

A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel directly into electricity and heat.

When hydrogen is supplied as the fuel, it reacts with oxygen to produce electricity, and the only by-products are water and heat. This process is clean, silent, and incredibly efficient. A fuel cell can generate power as long as a fuel source is supplied, unlike a battery which is limited to the stored energy within. Fuels cells are capable of operating on a number of fuels, including natural gas, propane and hydrogen. In these cases, fuel cells do have carbon emissions, which contributes to global climate change, but at a rate significantly less than typical fossil fuel generators or electricity, and they still avoid considerable emissions of other pollutants as well.

There are thousands of stationary fuel cell systems operating throughout the world, providing supplemental power and grid-independent, on-site service in homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, telecom sites and landfills. Fuel cells can also work on the go to power cars, buses, airplanes, cell phones, laptops, and more. With nearly ten times the lifespan of batteries on a single charge, fuel cells are an ideal power source for our increasingly mobile society.

There are still technical and engineering challenges to be addressed before fuel cells can be produced and implemented on a mass scale. Over time, as more fuel cells are produced on a greater scale, prices should decline accordingly. In New York State, fuel cell technologies are eligible for participation in the state's Clean Energy Standard program. Please check out the links in the sidebar for more information about fuels cells and their many benefits and uses.

Aside from having low or zero emissions, fuel cells are highly efficient and reliable, have great flexibility in terms of installation, operation and scale, and are durable and easy to maintain. As a distributed energy resource, they can contribute to grid resilience and reliability, as well as avoid distribution losses and distribution system investments.