The Truth about Fuel Cells
Fuel cells are one of the most promising renewable energy technologies around today. Providing an extreme amount of versatility, scalability and adaptability – fuel cells have been praised as one of the most promising new technologies as a source of green energy.
There are still, however, lots of myths about fuel cells and fuel cell stacks. As more and more people turn to these systems to support their energy needs, more information is required to debunk inaccurate claims made about fuel cells. In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about the various myths surrounding this new technology, revealing the truth about fuel cells.
Myth #1: Buying a fuel cell is not cost-effective.
As the technology surrounding fuel cells develops rapidly, it’s widely expected that the era of cheap fuel cells is approaching. While fuel cells remain relatively costly compared to their fossil-fuel-based counterparts, prices are decreasing quickly. As fuel cell prices continue to go down, their superior efficiency, durability and lifespan will likely make them a cost-effective solution. Buying a fuel cell is therefore an increasingly reasonable solution for a growing number of organizations.
Myth #2: Fuel cells are not reliable.
Fuel cells are one of the most reliable forms of renewable energy technology out there today. Compared to battery technology and even many combustion engines – fuel cells offer an extremely long life span and are known to be reliable when operating even under harsh conditions. In fact, this is why they are commonly used in critical and emergency applications such as hospitals, data centers and telecommunications towers. Where battery power can deplete over time and in harsh conditions, fuel cell stacks are prized for their ability to operate reliably even after years on standby.
Myth #3: There is not enough hydrogen to support the widespread adoption of fuel cells.
While currently hydrogen – the most common fuel used to power fuel cell stacks – is mainly produced from fossil fuels, ‘green’ hydrogen is developing rapidly. This hydrogen is made from renewable sources like wind and solar energy, meaning minimal fossil fuel emissions across the entire value chain.
Not only this, but the rapid development of hydrogen infrastructure across multiple continents – with countries increasingly investing in hydrogen refuelling stations and distribution networks – means that hydrogen fuel will be more accessible than ever.
Myth #4: Fuel cells are not efficient.
Fuel cell stacks are one of the most efficient means of energy production today. While combustion engines achieve efficiencies of around 28%, fuel cells can achieve up to 59% or more efficiency. The Horizon H-1000 XP Fuel Cell Stack, for example, has achieved 59% efficiency in real-world conditions. This means more energy in the fuel is converted into electricity.
Combined heat and power fuel cells are a potential renewable energy solution to powering houses and buildings, where total efficiencies as high as 90% are achievable.
Myth #5: Fuel cells are not practical for everyday use.
Fuel cell stacks are already used in a variety of applications, from fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to large power plants and even small portable electronics.
In the not-too-distant future, it’s expected fuel cells will be used to power everything from boats and airplanes to commercial farm equipment.
Myth #6: Fuel cells require special maintenance.
Fuel cells are thought by some people to require arduous and expensive maintenance, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fuel cells are in fact relatively easy to maintain due to them having fewer moving parts than fossil fuel-based combustion engines. While these systems do contain electrodes and special water management components that do need to be checked regularly, the level of maintenance is nothing near what you would find from a combustion engine.
While fuel cells do present the potential buyer with some challenges – such as maintenance and the initial purchasing price – there are an array of myths about fuel cells which keep customers from buying them. Despite these myths, the truth about fuel cells is that they are extremely reliable, cost-effective and run on a fuel that is becoming increasingly accessible. Their maintenance requirements are considerably lower than their fossil fuel counterparts, they are practical for everyday use, and are extremely efficient. For companies, educational organizations and individuals – buying a fuel cell is becoming an increasingly attractive option.
Interested in learning more about fuel cells? Check out our [Horizon Guide to Buying a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Stack]