Fuel Cells Would Save Energy at Federal Agencies, Concludes DOE

Washington, D.C., U.S.A., 18 March 1996/PRNewswire—The following was released by Fuel Cells 2000, an Activity of the Breakthrough Technologies Institute.

Federal agencies should buy and use fuel cells because the cutting-edge energy technology has “significant potential” to save taxpayers’ dollars while producing major environmental benefits, according to federal energy conservation experts.

The “buy” recommendation is contained in a Federal Technology Alert published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). FEMP helps federal agencies reduce energy costs and improve overall energy efficiency.

“This report is an affirmation of fuel cells as an environmentally benign energy conservation technology,” said Robert R. Rose, executive director of Fuel Cells 2000, a nonprofit educational organization, in calling public attention to the report. “Federal experts independently have assessed the performance of the first fuel cell units and concluded that a fuel cell is not only a sustainable, environmentally friendly technology, but one that can help the bottom line.”

The report estimates fuel cells could yield a savings of two dollars for every dollar spent in installing and operating the units. The potential savings will vary from facility to facility, the report notes, depending on the local price of natural gas and electricity.

“The experience gained and the lessons learned from the commercial (fuel cell) systems installed to date have conclusively validated the technology,” the report concludes. “The future of natural gas fuel cells in the federal sector looks good.”

A fuel cell is an advanced technology that produces electrical power without combustion. Fuel cells are inherently more efficient and low-polluting than conventional energy systems.

The report says fuel cells would be particularly effective where natural gas costs are low and electricity and demand costs are high; where thermal energy can be recovered and utilized; strict air quality rules limit the options available to meet electric power requirements; and in applications that need highly reliable, high quality power.

The fuel cell assessment is one of only seven Federal Technology Alerts published to date by FEMP’s New Technology Demonstration Program. Program staff publish Alerts to help federal agencies meet the 1992 Congressional mandate to reduce federal energy consumption 30 percent by the year 2005.

For copies of the Alert, call Karen Walker at Fuel Cells 2000, +1.202.646.7794. The author, Dr. Steven A. Parker, may be reached at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, +1.509.375.6366. ©1996. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of the National Hydrogen Association.
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