First Ever Networked Fuel Cell System for Commercial Use

Firms joint forces to develop networked, zero-emission, commercial-sized alkaline fuel cell power generation systems.

Published: 04-Apr-2001

ALLIED Utility Network, ZeTek Power Corp. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of ZeTek Power Plc); and SatCon Technology Corp. have joined forces to develop networked, zero-emission, commercial-sized alkaline fuel cell power generation systems. The objective of the collaboration is to create a clean, low-cost, highly efficient distributed energy source capable of meeting the needs of electric utilities and their customers by networking fuel cell generators to be operated either on the grid or on a stand-alone basis. Networking enables separate fuel cell systems to operate in a co-ordinated function.

The three-phase program consists of a small scale modeling exercise leading to 500kW of networked fuel cell systems and finally the installation of up to 50MW of generating capacity. ZeTek will provide the modular alkaline fuel cell stacks; SatCon will provide the power electronics and controls that will link the modular fuel cells to provide a premium power grade output; and ALLIED will provide the utility test bed for the fuel cell program.

ALLIED Utility Network is an association of seven utilities located around the United States, and provides innovative, yet practical, solutions to the utility industry, helping them to be more competitive and successful in their chosen markets. ALLIED is the first national utility services company to serve as Municipals, Investor Owned and (Membership) Co-operatives. Dean Alford, its President and CEO states, "Our utilities are very interested in bringing this technology to the marketplace. The challenge has always been linking fuel cell modules together and then effectively integrating them into the electric power grid. We believe our team of players has the wherewithal to make this happen."

ZeTek Power Corporation is a manufacturer of alkaline fuel cells for stationary, mobile, and marine power generation. Nicholas Abson, President of ZeTek Power Corporation said, "This agreement justifies our belief that alkaline fuel cell technology, so long used in space programs, has finally come down to earth. Our newest plant, in Tennessee, currently being equipped with the latest state of the art fuel cell production machinery, will meet the requirements of ALLIED Utilities and its members in their search for zero emission power generation, well into the future. We congratulate ALLIED and SatCon for their commitment and courage in becoming the country's leaders in developing a serious fuel cell electric network for the benefit of the community and the improvement of the global environment."
SatCon Technology Corporation manufactures and sells power and energy management products for distributed power, telecommunications, silicon wafer manufacturing, factory automation, aircraft, satellites, and automotive applications. "We are very excited to be working with these organizations in the development of fuel cell power generation systems for electric utility applications," said David Eisenhaure, SatCon President and CEO. "Commercial sized fuel cells have a strong near term market opportunity, whether for power generation in support of the electric utility grid or as an on-site power generation source for industrial applications. We believe that a large association like ALLIED Utility Network investing in the commercialization of fuel cell technology is a validation of both the need for these systems and their commercial viability."

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