Residential Fuel Cells Almost Here

Distributed generation using residential scale fuel cells nearing commercialization but they won't be cheaper than central generation.

Published: 10-Dec-2000

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - A machine the size of an office copier could one day bring heat and light to thousands of homes in the West at locations so remote they're out of reach of electrical transmission lines.

Fuel cells, essentially batteries that don't go dead, run on oxygen and hydrogen and have the potential to replace wood stoves, noisy generators and kerosene lamps for those living off the grid.

A half-century ago, the electrification of Washington was so limited that some 80 percent of the state geographically relied on alternative sources of energy, something known as distributed generation, said Greg Smith, vice president of generation for Energy Northwest, which operates the region's only nuclear power plant, 10 miles north of here.

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