DTE Energy, Plug Power Install Demo Fuel Cells

April 29, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

DTE Energy Technologies Inc. (Detroit, MI) has installed two fuel cells manufactured by Plug Power Inc. (Latham, NY) to provide backup power at a Detroit Edison power station in a project intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using the technology in conjunction with the traditional power grid. The project is to assess the use of fuel cells to improve the reliability of battery systems at power stations by providing a grid-independent source to charge the batteries.

The 5kW proton-exchange membrane fuel cell systems operate to provide 2.5kW each of electrical output and will support the battery systems that provide backup power to the control circuits for the power station's five natural-gas-fired turbine peaker units, which are used to generate electricity during peak demand periods.

"This pilot program will give us a taste of meshing a distributed generation product, a fuel cell, with a real-world power grid situation," said DTE Energy Senior Vice President of Energy Distribution Ron May.

"The installation of fuel cells in this substation provides a unique opportunity to apply fuel cells in support of the existing electric grid," said Plug Power President and CEO Roger Saillant. "While we have supported direct power generation into the electrical grid, this installation represents the first application of our systems in supporting the critical control circuits within a power station."