First Fuel-Cell-Powered Telecom Facility Launched

July 18, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

Representatives from five public and private organizations have joined forces to launch the nation's first fuel-cell-powered telecommunications site. The demonstration project is aimed at significantly advancing the adoption of alternative energy technologies.

The natural-gas-powered fuel cell system, developed by Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc. (Cambridge, MA), with support from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, was unveiled at a Verizon engineering facility. SatCon Technology Corp. (Cambridge, MA) and KeySpan Corp. (New York) also participated.

The field demonstration represented phase two of a joint effort between Nuvera and Verizon to develop, test and evaluate fuel cell systems in the 5kW range. The fuel cell system will provide primary power to the Verizon facility and also provide local phone service to nearly 200 area customers. The electric grid and batteries will be used to provide backup power.

"Our system is capable of converting commonly available fuels such as natural gas into hydrogen to generate clean, efficient electricity," said Mark Brodsky, CEO and president of Nuvera Fuel Cells. "This has allowed us to accelerate the commercialization of fuel cells not only in the telecommunications market where power quality and reliability are critically important but also in the transportation and residential markets."

"The number of companies interested in obtaining alternative energy sources and distributed generation has doubled from a year ago," added David Manning, senior vice president of corporate affairs at KeySpan. "By providing them with the energy source to produce electrical power independently, we are able to give them the peace of mind they are looking for when operating their businesses or powering their homes and electronic devices."