Fuel Cells coming on

With the recent approval of Cap and Trade by the California Air Resources Board, California becomes the first state to place limits on greenhouse gas emissions from utilities, manufacturers and refineries as required by AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act.  While the impact on global warming will be mostly symbolic, the impact on California businesses and energy producers will be significant.  So perhaps it is time these businesses and enterprises that have a dual mandate of supplying energy or manufacturing products in California and reducing their emissions will consider fuel cells.


The original fuel cell concept was developed over 170 years ago but only recently have technology and conversion to alternative power sources made the utilization of fuel cells commercially attractive.  Fuel cells had proven useful in space exploration for over 40 years including manned space flight.  Current interest in converting fuel to electricity has accompanied the push to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reducing the CO2 emissions created by their combustion.  No state (or nation for that matter) have been as aggressive as California.

Adoption of new technology as a substitute for a solid, reliable, proven alternative is always difficult and fuel cell technologies and the companies that produce them have at times struggled.  Where required, fuel cells have been successfully designed and utilized in specific applications in tiny specialized markets (e.g. fuel cells for space craft). Larger commercial applications have proven to be difficult or economically unsustainable.

That is changing as the demand for alternatives to burning fossil fuels or at least significantly reducing CO2 emissions from energy supplies is driving new technologies and fostering the creation of new businesses.   As fuel cell technology evolves, it is finding acceptability in a variety of applications:  energy storage, transportation, hybrid power trains, electronic devices and back up power supplies.  Where ever a battery is the current choice for powering a device or vehicle or machine, fuel cells have an opportunity.  And in some applications – warehouse fork lifts/lift trucks or golf carts that typically rely on batteries – fuel cells are not only superior in performance but cheaper.

Seeking Alpha, an online stock research service has additional details here: Fuel Cell Industry Plays as Growth Continues .  Cap & Trade might not do much to for curtailing global CO2 emissions, but as more states and nations look to reduce their utilization and combustion of fossil fuels, the designers and producers of fuel cells will benefit greatly.