When it comes to energy sources, Texas is most known for two: oil and wind energy. But, could fuel cell energy one day be a defining energy source for the Lone Star State? Fuel Cells 2000, an activity of Breakthrough Technologies Institute in Washington, D.C., with support provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fuel Cells Technologies Program, named Texas as one of the five up-and-coming states that is working to make its mark in the industry in their annual report.
Texas was chosen for its present and planned developments of hydrogen fueling stations and fuel cell powered vehicles, buses and forklifts; and its university research projects attract funding towards advancing the fuel cell industry.
Recent Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Dispenser Installations
- Austin is now home to a new 35-foot Proterra fuel cell/plug-in battery hybrid bus which is being operated by Capital Metro, the city’s public bus system. This bus is traveling the country and is on loan to Capital Metro, for one year, through the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.
- Sprint Nextel Corp. received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to retrofit 70 cell phone towers with fuel cells across Texas and Louisiana.
- Sysco in Houston received ARRA funds to deploy fuel cell systems as battery replacements for forklifts at a new distribution center in Houston. Sysco’s efforts in Houston are also part of a Department of Defense funded project.
Planned Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Dispenser Installations
- Fort Hood was selected under the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center, CERL PEM Fuel Cell Backup Demonstration Program to receive emergency fuel cell backup power units in June 2011.
- H-E-B Grocers already operates 14 fuel cell-powered forklifts at its distribution center in San Antonio and plans to add 16 more forklifts and two more hydrogen dispensers in the future.
- Sysco also plans to add 133 fuel cell-powered forklifts to their San Antonio warehouse.
Recent Activity by Texas Universities
- The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM) worked with the Gas Technology Institute, Hydrogenics and Columbia ParCar on a new hybrid fuel cell utility vehicle developed for the Department of Defense. The vehicle is expected to have a driving range of more than 300 miles.
As state and national leaders and companies continue to work together on developing additional strategies and incentives to advance the fuel cell industry in the United States the rewards can be worth the effort: job creation as the industry expands, predictable and lower energy costs, a more reliable electric supply and a cleaner environment.
Have you seen or heard of any fuel cell activities in Texas? Tell us!