Forget Solyndra, Fuel Cell Industry Growing with U.S. Gov't Support

By the end of fiscal year 2011, ARRA funding had helped to install 830 fuel cells.

Published: 29-Dec-2011

So much political hay has been made over the collapse of Solyndra, which was supported by government funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Government isn’t qualified to pick technological winners and losers, said detractors; support for renewable energy is political, they said. But government has a long history of encouraging emerging technologies, and that continues, from energy storage to fuel cells.

Beginning in April 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) invested $41.6 million in ARRA funding for fuel cell technologies for auxiliary power, backup power, combined heat and power, lift truck, and portable-power applications.

Fuel cells convert hydrogen, natural gas or other fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process. They promise lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide (CO2). And as a distributed technology, located at the user’s site rather than a central power plant, their use can potentially save money and energy on transmission and distribution.

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