New York State Invests $15M in Fuel Cell Systems for Critical Facilities

fuel cell systems NYSERDA
(Photo: Blackout on 9th Street in Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy, October 30, 2012. Credit: Dan Nguyen, Flickr Creative Commons)

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is making $15 million available for installing and operating fuel cell systems statewide. These new systems will go toward supporting critical infrastructure facilities including hospitals, police and fire stations as well as supermarkets, according to NYSERDA.

“The siting of fuel cell systems at buildings where the power will be consumed avoids the traditional transmission and distribution system losses of electricity and its associated greenhouse gas emissions,” the public benefit corporation says. “As a result, fuel cells improve the efficiency of the electricity system.”

The funds, available through December 31, 2019, will be limited to $1 million per project and each fuel cell module must exceed 25 kilowatts. Systems that work independent of the grid and provide backup power during outages will also receive NYSERDA incentives. Funding comes from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, which NYSERDA administrates.

Fuel cells provide resiliency by supplying power to critical building loads during a power failure, NYSERDA says. NYSERDA has funded 24 continuous-duty stationary power fuel cell systems representing 7.1 MW as of March, and is supporting 12 other projects under development that are expected to add 2.5 MW when they’re operational.

Although energy storage is gaining traction, only a few states have set specific targets so far. One is California, which is aiming to reach 1.3 gigawatts by 2020. This year New York set an energy storage target of 1.5 gigawatts by 2025.

In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $1.4 billion in funding for 26 large-scale renewable energy projects, which he called the single largest commitment to renewable energy by a state in US history. Projects include utility-scale solar farms, a hydroelectric site, and wind farms.

One of the wind farms will have an energy storage component — a first for New York. All of the projects are expected to be fully operational by 2022, adding 1,380 megawatts of capacity and generating over 3,200,000 MWh annually, according to the governor’s office.

The new funding for fuel cells is part of the governor’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030. These systems also contribute to New York’s goal of having a clean and affordable energy system that can bounce back from outages.

“By integrating fuel cells into our energy infrastructure, we are building a more resilient energy system that can better withstand more frequently occurring extreme weather events,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA.

The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.

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