Toshiba has unveiled a new megawatt hydrogen-powered fuel cell system that’s capable of powering an entire factory or hospital, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
The new 1 megawatt system is composed of ten 100kW hydrogen fuel cells and can generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
This puts Toshiba in league with Canada’s Ballard Power Systems which is the only other supplier of hydrogen fuel cells capable of dishing such capacity.
For the record, factories and hospitals generally require power capacity of 1MW to 2MW to operate – something Toshiba is hoping to capitalize on with its new power system.
Japan has of late been pushing hydrogen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to carbon-based fuels.
Hydrogen can supplement solar and wind power supply, which tends to be unstable, generating electricity at night for those who rely on solar during the day, for instance.
Another idea is to produce hydrogen using solar energy and generate power from that hydrogen later. Because hydrogen can be stored, it can be used as an emergency power source.
Hydrogen-produced power, however, has one major drawback: It is costly.
Electricity produced by hydrogen fuel cells for industry users costs about 37 cents per kilowatt-hour by one estimate. That’s roughly twice as expensive as conventional electricity and also higher than rechargeable batteries.
Japan is nevertheless making efforts to remedy this by building hydrogen fuel infrastructure nationwide, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Trials have already begun at a hydrogen production facility in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, one of the world’s biggest such plants.
The project, which involves Toshiba Energy Systems and local utility Tohoku Electric Power among others, will produce and store up to 900 tons of hydrogen a year.
The collaborators are hopeful that increased use of hydrogen could help bring down the cost of power generation.
Image and content: Nikkei Asian Review