Simplifying Hydrogen Services for the Backup Power Market

Wireless communications provider Southern Linc has been a Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell customer since 2015.  In early 2018, Plug Power brought the capability to provide tiered hydrogen services in-house.  With more than 2,400 installed backup power customer locations in the U.S., located in 46 states, making hydrogen simple is often the difference between a customer choosing to expand their network using fuel cell backup power and deciding to purchase a diesel generator.Utility Telecom Fuel Cell

Fuel cell users like Southern Linc have had multiple methods for hydrogen supply for over a decade – and they still do:

  • Hydrogen cylinders may be stored on-site and swapped out for full ones when they are depleted.
  • A fuel reformer stores a hydrocarbon, like methanol-water, in an on-site storage tank and processes that mixture to create hydrogen, feeding it to the fuel cell.  Methanol-water is replenished as needed.
  • An electrolyzer generates hydrogen from water stored on-site.
  • And finally, bulk hydrogen refueling, which is what we’re talking about today.

Plug Power’s tiered GenFuel bulk refueling service for our stationary and backup power markets stores large hydrogen cylinders at each customer location and refills the cylinders as needed:

  • Initial fills get a customer site up and running once the fuel cell has been installed.
  • Routine fills replenish fuel between primary power outages requiring fuel cell runtime.
  • Seasonal top-offs get sites fueled before the anticipated window of more frequent fuel cell use – hurricane season, winter, etc.
  • Disaster recovery refills keep sites running after primary power has been disrupted and until it can be repaired.

Hydrogen Fueling Services

Plug Power currently provides bulk refueling services for Southern Linc and other customers, many of whom have hundreds of fuel cells within their networks.  Bringing the service in-house has enabled us to provide more cost-effective fuel service as well as conduct routine product maintenance while on site, which prevents a second service call from being needed.  Our customers see faster refill times – we have been able to reduce fill response times by as much as 500% in just four months.

Hydrogen currently is purchased from various regional industrial gas production facilities, but we will soon be accessing hydrogen from the hydrogen storage facilities at our GenFuel material handling customer locations around the country, which would provide an even wider network of hydrogen fueling capabilities.  Fuel sourcing and delivery has always been the Achilles heel for the stationary power fuel cell market. Plug Power now has the ability to fuel even the most remote sites with very quick response times and cost-effective solutions that allow longer runtimes with a larger capacity fuel storage.

Just one more way Plug Power is leading the quest for better, more effective and clean backup power solutions.