Southern States Power enters stationary fuel cell markets

Chula Vista may get first fuel-cell and natural gas cogeneration facility running on natural gas

provided by Southern States Power


s part of its Advanced Power Generation Program, Southern States Power Company announced that it is beginning its Stationary Source Fuel Cell Generation Program. The announcement of this new fuel cell development program comes two weeks after SSPC announced that it entered into a joint venture to develop a fuel cell powered van with Global Fuel Cell Corporation.

Fuel cells run on hydrogen gas that can be produced from variety of fuels including natural gas, propane, bio-diesel, methanol, and gasoline. Natural gas is the fuel of choice and presents the least amount of problems in conversion. Unfortunately, automobiles cannot carry enough natural gas tanks and therefore have range limitations.

However, fuel cells also have very large market applications as stationary power generation units. Power generator fuel cells are not confronted with the same technical hurdles as automobile fuel cells. For example, stationary fuel cells can run indefinitely on natural gas supplied by local gas mains, which presently exist in most U.S. cities. Secondly, the space limitations in automobiles do not present a problem in stationary fuel cell applications.

A third advantage of stationary applications is that fuel cells running on natural gas can be combined with a natural gas powered cogeneration unit. The waste heat of the natural gas generator can be utilized for fuel cell operations in conjunction with other cogeneration features.

In addition to these advantages, stationary source fuel cell applications have the additional benefits of high efficiency and no pollution. Fuel cells can generate pollution-free power at the customer site with no requirements for connecting to the electric power grid or power lines, and they are independent from power company outages (can anyone remember a natural gas outage?). Furthermore, fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical cycle by combining hydrogen with oxygen (from air) to form H2O (pure water). This chemical cycle doubles the energy conversion efficiency over a conventional burning fuel cycle. Therefore, fuel cells offer lower electrical fuel costs which are the single largest cost component in the production of electrical power.

The markets for stationary fuel cell generation are very large and include base-load applications in government, military services and industry, emergency power backup for mission critical applications including telecommunications, medical care and facilities management, and alternative energy for small and large residential environments. In response to strong interest in the benefits of stationary fuel cell technology, SSPC is presently negotiating with BF Goodrich Aerospace to install the first fuel-cell and natural gas cogeneration facility running on natural gas at the BF Goodrich Aerospace facilities in Chula Vista, Calif.

  Contact: Bill Wason or Paul Poduska, (619) 409-8977, for Southern States Power;