Are Fuel Cells available now?
Fuel cells are quickly gaining market ground in availability and product options. There are distributed generation solutions for small scale residential up to large scale commercial needs. The U.S. Department of Energy's
(DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website provides a listing of manufacturers. Currently,
there are three fuel cell models certified for the California Emerging Renewables Rebate Program.
Are Fuel Cells Economical?
Before proceeding with any Self-Generation project, a site-specific economic analysis should be done. If a good thermal load exists at the site, fuel cells may be an economically viable power generation solution, however,
their initial cost will be higher than combustion technologies.
Positive environmental attributes of fuel cells should be considered when analyzing cost-effectiveness. Due to their very low air emissions, fuel cells are typically exempt from air pollution control permit requirements -
resulting in thousands of dollars saved annually in air permit fees and emission source test costs.
Under the new PUC Self-Generation Program, fuel cells operating on renewable fuel (landfill or digester gas) with output between 30 kilowatts and 1 Megawatt, and sized at or below customer's annual peak demand are
eligible for an incentive of $4500 per kilowatt.
Fuel Cells operating on nonrenewable fuel, of any size up to 1 Megawatt are eligible for an incentive of $2500 per kilowatt. providing that the heat produced by the fuel cell is recovered for beneficial use (Cogeneration).