Supplying fuel cells

Berkshire-based UPS Systems is supplying two methanol fuel cells to npower renewables for prime power in a portable wind monitoring application.

The fuel cell installation is due for completion in January 2009, in order for npower renewables to undertake its first deployment of the new system, which is capable of measuring wind speeds and direction at the full range of possible wind turbine heights.

Continuous power to the anemometry equipment is provided by two 12V gelled-electrolyte batteries, which recharge quickly and can operate across a wide range of seasonal temperature conditions.

The system also comprises solar PV and two EFOY Pro 1600 methanol fuel cell modules to ensure the batteries are constantly recharged.

UPS Systems supplied the batteries, fuel cells and methanol fuel for the project, which are all integrated within a ProCube casing and monitored by REMO, the company’s proprietary remote monitoring system.

Stewart Kirby, anemometry analyst at npower renewables, said: ‘We chose to integrate fuel cells into the project because of their flexibility, which allows the whole remote monitoring and power system to be portable.

‘We need to be able to move the wind monitoring equipment quickly and easily between locations and the fuel cells allow us to do this.

‘Ultimately the new system will enable us to further optimise wind farm layout designs and performance modelling for potential wind farm sites in the UK.’

According to UPS Systems, methanol fuel cells deliver clean energy and guaranteed reliable power.

Their lightweight and compact size along with their ability to generate continuous power makes them better suited for portable applications in remote locations.

In this application, the units are supplied with a single 28-litre canister of methanol to power the system for more than a month.

Tom Sperrey, managing director of UPS Systems, said: ‘Until now our fuel cell deployments have mainly centred on the provision of standby power for IT or demonstrator projects where fuel cells have been integrated within renewable energy systems.

‘This project uses fuel cells for prime power in a remote monitoring application, demonstrating the versatile nature of the technology.

‘Fuel cells offer significant benefits and this project shows how fuel cells are becoming relevant across a range of applications.’