Fuel-cell makers strike out on major CT deals

Fuel-cell makers strike out on major CT deals

(Hartford Business Journal, 11/28/16) – Connecticut over the years has nurtured its fuel-cell industry perhaps more than any other state, offering policies and financial perks that have made the miniature power plants more economical to manufacture and purchase. But two major state clean-energy procurements, which failed to select fuel-cell projects, have revealed the potential limits of that support and dealt a setback to the industry.

Discussions about new ways to boost the industry could start in January, as DEEP begins to update the state’s overall energy strategy.

Joel Rinebold, chair of NEESC (Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster), which is administered by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, said he would support a different methodology for evaluating fuel cells.

“We do need to take into consideration price, but we also have to take into consideration the value these machines bring in for clean, reliable energy and also the job creation aspects of it here,” Rinebold said.

(At the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Forum Nov. 17, Governor Dannel) Malloy highlighted the state’s financial incentives for fuel-cell-powered “microgrids” launched after major storm-related power outages in 2011. An 800-kilowatt microgrid went live in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood this year, which will provide power to select buildings if the grid fails.

In addition, Malloy said there may be ways for the state to encourage pairing fuel cells with wind or solar technology.

Rinebold said he was “pleased the governor is thinking in those terms.”

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