While we’re still waiting for fuel cells to power our gadgets, the technology is starting to make headway towards powering our homes — at least in some markets. UK-based utility Scottish and Southern Energy and fuel cell designer Intelligent Design recently unveiled a new joint venture aimed at developing and producing fuel cell-based combined heat and power (CHP) systems. CHP systems use a hydrogen fuel cell to produce power and electricity simultaneously — and thus more efficiently — than when done separately.
The joint venture, called IE CHP, will connect Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell technologies with the UK utility’s 8.5 million customers, both residential and commercial. SSE says they are making an initial investment of £1 million (or $2 million) for a 50 percent stake in the new company. The financial details of Intelligent Energy’s stake were not disclosed.
Fuel cell CHP systems are currently being used primarily as backups for large buildings; they can be the size of a truck and weigh over 20 tons. A refrigerator-sized fuel cell could power a single home producing electricity and heat as needed.
A fuel cell CHP system was deployed in England back in 2001 to power and heat parts of Woking Park. In commemoration, a statue of Sir William Grove, “Father of the Fuel Cell,” was erected next to the fuel cell.