Fuel Cell Installed in Oregon

Combine hydrogen and oxygen in a refrigerator-sized cabinet stuffed with high technology and the results are enough electricity and hot water to supply a 2,000 square foot house or a small office. It’s a fuel cell, a promising alternative for future power generation.

Portland, Oregon – September 19, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The first such fuel cell to reach the Portland was installed by Portland General Electric through a Bonneville Power Administration program and on display Wednesday, September 18 at the Portland General Electric Earth Advantage National Center. BPA invited representatives of utilities, public agencies and energy managers to the session to learn more about the cells and to hear how they might sign up for one of their own. In exchange for in-depth research and performance data, BPA shared the cost of a limited number of these fuel cells. “We’ve been testing residential-sized fuel cells in the Northwest for two years,” said Mira Vowles, BPA’s fuel cell program manager. “While the technology is still developing, we think they are ready for some vigorous testing under a variety of demands.” This fuel cell will be the first one in the state connected to a power grid. One of these fuel cells passed a rigorous test last year by keeping the power on at the Emerald Public Utility District headquarters in Eugene during a winter windstorm that darkened most of Lane County. Vowles explained that, by partnering with Northwest utilities and fuel cell manufacturers IdaTech and Global Thermoelectric, BPA is supporting the advancement of fuel cell technology and giving utilities a chance to get into the market early and influence the way this technology develops. She said that it could be 10 years before fuel cell systems are reliable, commercially available and affordable for homes or small businesses. “Our vision for the future includes fuel cells,” she said, “because they generate clean, efficient, environmentally friendly power.”
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