Who doesn’t want to save money, the planet, and be energy independent?
Electric rates are going nowhere but up. Although we can make changes to conserve energy, we often don’t have the luxury of turning off every electronic device, lamp and power strip.
Perhaps the way to solve this dilemma is to look at the source of your home’s power supply. Renewable energy options are increasingly available these days – from solar panels to backyard wind turbines to fuel cell technology. If you’re specifically looking for a quick return on your investment (average 5 years) and prefer a compact and quiet energy source, on-site fuel cells provide a very viable alternative.
Fuel cells come in different shapes, sizes, and power capabilities. And like solar power, fuel cells can be used for heating water and require no combustion. In general, the payback on residential fuel cell technology can be faster than solar.
Read on to learn more about all the great benefits fuel cells have to offer.
Come Wind or High Water
Fuel cells can be used year round because their efficiency is not directly impacted by weather. Solar panels require lots of sunshine, and wind turbines need steady, fairly strong winds. Imagine 24/7 heat and power, all coming from a clean energy source!
The main by-products of fuel cell chemistry can be heat and a small amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). Despite the CO2 emissions, they are tremendously less than those produced by burning fossil fuels. Fuel cells are clearly part of the answer to a creating a more sustainable atmosphere and limiting global warming concerns.
With proper maintenance and use, fuel cells can be 60 – 90% efficient. Fuel cells can be even more efficient if the heat produced from their function is diverted to heat residential water or indoor space. This is contrasted with only 20-30% efficiency of traditional grid based power.
Unlike the humming produced by your local electric towers or wind turbines, fuel cell systems work 24/7 and sound similar to a typical air conditioning unit. This makes them a perfect clean energy addition to any residential or populated commercial area.
A properly integrated fuel cell system can help you save up to 50% on your utility bills. Producing your own clean energy also significantly reduces your need for grid power, although you will still need a natural gas supply to help run the fuel cell. You won’t be completely “off the grid” but much closer. And, you will be less susceptible to the impact of rising costs per kilowatt hour charged by the utility company.
No More Oil Spills
Fuel Cells can run on a variety of available fuels, most popular being hydrogen. They can also function on fuels such as natural gas, alcohol, biogas, ethanol, and methanol. If you are striving for a 100% clean energy source you may want to look into fuel cells that do not need hydrocarbons to function.
Although the initial investment can be significant, the ultimate payback for a home fuel cell system is much faster than that of wind or solar. Industry data shows that the payback for a fuel cell system averages approximately 5 years, a much shorter timeframe than the averages for solar or wind. Once your fuel cell system starts paying for itself, you can “bank” the surplus power with your utility company (if available) and earn credits that will be deducted from your monthly bills. You can find out more information on incentives and tax credits by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and State Efficiency.
Zero to No Wildlife Impact
Fuel cells systems are compact, self-contained, and do not burn fuel to make power. They also have no spinning blades like wind turbines, which can be dangerous for birds and other small animals. Since the technology can be condensed into a contained, free-standing unit, there are no lengthy wiring installations that can impact wildlife or be cut by the landscapers.
Fuel Cell technology can be incorporated into most properties, residential or commercial, although for efficiency’s sake they work best on homes over where the power created by the fuel cell can be utilized. Since fuel cells can sit on a small concrete pad and do not require more than 35 square feet of space, they can be virtually used on any property.
No Energy Surges or Black Outs
Fuel cells are not known to experience power surges or black outs, so you can enjoy your favorite TV show or book while your neighbors search for their flashlights in the dark. This is a great convenience especially if you live in a region that experiences harsh weather conditions.
Channel 10 on Fuel Cell Technology
New Technology May Help Lower Local Energy Bills.
First, determine your budget and then decide on the size of your specific project. Many states offer various incentives for renewable (renewable what), so make sure to determine if you are eligible for any rebates. Check out the DSIRE website for information in your area.
Our recommendation is to look for companies that offer commercial and residential installation—search our GreenPages for fuel cell providers such as ClearEdge Power.