UPS Systems’ Managing Director Tom Sperrey has forecast significant commercial growth for the UK fuel cell industry this year. While countries like Germany, Japan and America have embraced fuel cell technology, the UK has until now lagged behind, with high capital costs serving as a major barrier to widespread adoption of fuel cell technology. However, Tom Sperrey believes the UK fuel cell landscape is to change in the next 12 months, as costs fall with new products entering the market.
“2010 is bringing with it a new wave of fuel cell activity.” He said, “Already new products are launching into the market and companies continue to show interest in learning more about fuel cells and adopting clean technology. We are currently discussing fuel cell system roll-outs with several major corporates and NGOs. Under a grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) we are part of a consortium working to develop new technologies that reduce the use of expensive materials in fuel cells. As these developments are rolled out commercially, we expect capital costs to fall and make the technology financially attainable for more businesses.
Growth hotspots at present are traffic signalling, remote monitoring and security, using smaller hydrogen and methanol fuel cells, with power ranges between 25W to 150W for prime power and up to 15kW for standby power. Because smaller fuel cells are reliable, durable and portable, they are better suited to these types of applications. In these growth hotspots, fuel cells offer extended runtimes. For example, a fuel cell equipped with a 28 litre canister of methanol can easily operate equipment continuously for up to six months without human interference, thereby reducing the costs of manpower, transport and materials associated with sending someone to replace batteries on a regular basis. Smaller units have the potential to revolutionize the UK fuel cell industry. They are suitable for a range of applications and are proven technology in a growing number of commercial installations. With falling capital costs, and increased savings through lower running and maintenance costs, these smaller units are beginning to achieve widespread adoption across the UK. As capital costs fall, further applications become viable and create greater demand for fuel cells as an alternative and sustainable source of power.” In summary, Tom’s prediction for 2010 is:
- Costs for smaller fuel cells will continue to fall
- Fuel cell growth hotspots will be in low power applications
- When servicing is taken into account, fuel cell extended runtimes give businesses a much cheaper source of power
- By working together with research partners, they are helping to develop technology that drives down fuel cell capital costs even further.
UPS Systems exhibited the EFOY Pro 2200 at the Data Centre World Conference this spring. The EFOY Pro 2200 offers 38% more power than the EFOY Pro 1600; it generates 90W of electricity and is suitable for a range of prime and standby power applications. As with all fuel cells in the EFOY range, the EFOY Pro 2200 is a ‘plug and play’ solution - customers do not need special expertise to install it. “EFOY has proved that, in some situations, its fuel cells can save users up to 90% in operating and maintenance costs, so the argument for investing in fuel cell technology continues to grow,” said Tom Sperrey. In addition, the new unit offers several benefits for traffic regulation, surveillance and remote monitoring applications.
Traffic regulation: The EFOY Pro 2200 is robust and doesn’t require maintenance, so it can be left alone for long periods. An EFOY Pro 2200 using a 28-litre methanol cartridge can power a 50W traffic signal serial blinker for 26 days, while a traditional battery can only power it for one day.
Surveillance: The EFOY Pro 2200 is suited to powering security cameras and other surveillance applications. Using a 10-litre methanol cartridge, it provides 11.1kW of electricity – enough to power a 25W camera for three weeks without intervention. The compact fuel cell fits into small spaces, and is quiet and emission-free, so systems can run undetected.
Remote monitoring: Like other fuel cells in the EFOY range, the EFOY Pro 2200 can be used in hybrid installations that take advantage of renewable energy sources such as solar or wind. Such configurations recharge the batteries that power electrical equipment. This makes the EFOY Pro 2200 suitable for standby power applications and for operation in remote areas where there isn’t easy access to the grid. The EFOY Pro 2200 can be located outside, and can operate in all weather conditions.
The manufacturers of EFOY fuel cells, Smart Fuel Cell AG, have shipped more than 16,000 fully commercial products to industrial and private end users for more than five years. They have created a convenient supply infrastructure for their fuel cartridges, which deliver week-long autonomous energy and can be obtained from more than 1,400 sales points in Europe. (www.upssystems.co.uk) (www.sfc.com)
13th May 2010 Fuel cells - real world applications for business. UPS Systems, Hungerford, Berkshire. This event will provide delegates with an insight into the commercial applications for fuel cell products, featuring case studies that highlight the business benefits of fuel cells and showcasing working demonstration units. Topics covered are: current state of the market: fuel cells for prime and standby power: portable and stationary fuel cell installations: lowering the cost: the future of the industry. The event includes lunch and is free of charge. www.upssystems.co.uk/documents/Fuelcellseminaragenda6-4-2010.pdf. Tel. 01488 680 535
19th – 20th May 2010, All-Energy 2010, Aberdeen, Scotland. The largest renewable energy show ever held in the UK covers international developments and includes the role of hydrogen and fuel cells. Technical tours and the ‘Giant Networking Evening’ are features of this free event. www.all-energy.co.uk
14th – 16th June 2010, ASME 8th International Fuel Cell Science, Engineering & Technology Conference, Brooklyn, New York. www.asmeconferences.org/fuelcell2010
29th June – 2nd July 2010, European Fuel Cell Forum, Lucerne, Switzerland. www.efcf.com