SMUD Solar Array To Power Its Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles

A new solar array on the SMUD campus will soon provide enough electricity to generate hydrogen for SMUD’s small fleet of fuel-cell electric vehicles and provide clean electricity to the grid during peak power demands.

The recently completed photovoltaic (PV) array delivers 80 kilowatts of power produced by the sun, which is enough power to provide hydrogen for about 14 fuel-cell vehicles. Construction on the hydrogen fueling station will be done by the end of the year. Until then, the solar power generated by the panels will feed into the SMUD grid.

Designed as a demonstration project, the solar-powered fueling station will fuel the seven fuel-cell electric vehicles that SMUD is testing in a partnership with BP, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler. As the solar panels make electricity, an electrolyzer at the station will use that energy to separate water into hydrogen to make clean fuel for the vehicles. The amount of hydrogen produced at the site will be kept low for safety considerations.

In addition to the fuel-cell vehicles, SMUD is also testing battery electric vehicles and a plug-in hybrid vehicle that gets 100 miles per gallon. SMUD also uses numerous conventional hybrid vehicles as well as several flex fuel vehicles that can use ethanol fuel or gasoline.

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