While it’s true that most, if not all, businesses in the UK have access to affordable and reliable electricity, connecting to the grid can be expensive or sometimes not even a possibility. One of my longest serving hydrogen fuel cell customers is on the Olympic Park in London, an area which you’d imagine would be highly connected.

The power maybe there, but is not always affordable

The fact is power companies will try to make the grid available to domestic customers, but they’ll charge the full cost of connection to business users.

So, if you only want a temporary connection there are no simple, low-cost shortcuts. Connections must also be safe and legal, which often means buried cables, additional transformers and planning permission – adding to the cost and delays.

Growing market for hydrogen powered generators

A BOC hydrogen fuel cell and GENIE hydrogen cylinder

When BOC trialled the first hydrogen fuel cell in 2005 it was right next to a high voltage network but the connection costs would have been over £100,000. With such high costs, it’s no wonder the Environment Agency decided to commission a hybrid solar and hydrogen fuel cell technology solution.

Using a hydrogen fuel cell generator as an alternative energy source is a growing market. It’s ideal for off-grid electrical applications and, combined with renewable power presents a sensible and an increasingly more common business decision.

Hydrogen fuel cells – the perfect off-grid power solution

BOC’s HYMERA® hydrogen fuel cell generator can do things traditional fuel generators can’t. Take as an example its use by the Happisburgh Coast Watch (HCW), a member of a network of volunteer organisations that monitor parts of the UK coast.

In 2014, the watch had to move its station close to Happisburgh RNLI. This rural location on the Norfolk coast is not remote and there are commercial and domestic buildings nearby. However, the power company wanted to charge HCW £1,000s to connect the station to the grid – unaffordable for a small charitable organisation.

Although the site’s 400W of solar panels easily supported the power demands of a small office in the summer, HCW had a problem from November to February when there isn’t a lot of sun. It didn’t want to use its old generator, as it was noisy and expensive.

HCW installed BOC’s HYMERA® hydrogen fuel cell generator to support the site during the winter and as backup during dark rainy days.

It was a perfect application for HYMERA®, which is widely used to support low power/long run applications such as CCTV, alarm systems and lights.

To find out how our HYMERA® generator could be used by your business, please email mark.griffin@boc.com for further information.

Stewart Dow
Product & Market Development Manager, Fuel Cells