Shore Facility Fuel Cell Demonstration
COAST GUARD RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER GROTON CT
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A 250 kW Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell that converts natural gas into electricity was installed at U.S. Coast Guard USCG Air Station Cape Cod. The purpose of this evaluation was to determine whether fuel cell technology could be a reliable, more environmentally friendly, and cost-effective alternative to commercially procured electricity at CG shore facilities. This report discusses the installation of the fuel cell and analyzes its performance for a 1-year period beginning in June 2003. Results show that the fuel cell operated reliably however, ancillary issues related to the commercial electrical utility interconnection required the fuel cell to operate at reduced power, which minimized cost savings. Even operating at reduced capacity, the costs of the fuel cell were 24 K less than the projected costs of equivalent commercially procured energy. Future savings will depend upon maintenance costs and the relative cost differential between natural gas and commercial electricity. If technological advances and savings from mass production can reduce capital costs in future years, fuel cells may become financially viable alternatives. They do provide a fairly reliable back-up power source and significantly reduce emissions relative to other generating sources. Nonetheless, the technology has not yet matured to the point where it should be installed universally at other Coast Guard units.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Electrochemical Energy Storage