When Disaster Response Drives Transformational Change to Grids, Fuel Cells are the Preferred Choice of Many Energy Prosumers
The increasing frequency of weather-related disasters puts emergency disaster response in the headlines often and encourages more and more systematic solutions. In the example of wildfires in the U.S., where 30,000 fires burned over 3.5 million acres between January – August 2019, systematic solutions are crucial. Seeking to minimize fire damage, utilities in California have instilled the PSPS – Public Safety Power Shutoff – protocol. However, the more frequent deployment of voluntary shutdowns, which cause extended power outages of up to 96 hours, also demands a systematic response.
To survive these increasingly common extended outages without significant damages to their lives and livelihoods, more businesses and communities are becoming prosumers, customers that both produce and consume electricity. Prosumers generate energy independently by means of solar panels, microturbines, hydropower, fuel cells and similar DER or distributed energy resource technologies. The increasing quantity of these prosumers that consume the energy they require and deliver the excess to the grid by adding electricity generation sources behind the meter to the distribution system contribute crucial added stability to the grid.
Successful deployment of these resources in microgrid configuration, integrating power generation, monitor and control together with storage technologies, is gaining attention and popularity. Microgrids restore needed reliability and resilience to grids whose stability has been compromised, not only by today’s increasingly common weather-related disasters, but also by the higher percentage of power sources in the grid such as solar or wind that cannot promise constant availability.
Because they combine constant availability for extended duration, high power density, failsafe design and low maintenance, fuel cells are the preferred choice of a growing number of prosumers investing in distributed energy resources as effective emergency disaster response solutions.