GM to Sell Emergency Backup Fuel Cells

July 29, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

General Motors Corp. (GM, Detroit, MI) announced that it will enter the backup power systems market by selling stationary fuel cells to businesses and companies that pay hundreds of dollars per kilowatt hour for an uninterrupted flow of energy such as hospitals, cellular phone networks and credit card processing centers. The company expects to have a prototype stationary fuel cell ready by late next year, and its first customers in 2004. GM will announce by the end of this year partnerships with some established power suppliers to sell its fuel cell stacks to businesses.

GM recently opened a 64,000ft² fuel cell development facility, which will help bridge the gap from concept to commercialization for fuel cells. The new facility, which will employ up to 100 researchers and engineers, is adjacent to GM's 77,500ft² fuel cell research center. The largest market for the backup power supply will be in the US and Japan, where the government is aggressively pursuing fuel cell use.

Tim Veil, director of distributed generation solutions with GM, stated, "It gets us into a real market long before we have (fuel cell-powered) automobiles. We have the opportunity to bring some early near-term revenues. While many companies are battling over the residential power market, there are few competitors in the premium power market. We see an immediate market sweet spot."