California has long recognized the link between economic vitality and the guarantee of efficient, low-cost energy. Today, the need for energy security and environmentally friendly energy production have altered the discussion to some degree, but the fact remains that California’s economy ranked 5th among the Top 10 in the world and is inextricably linked to its energy supply.
Today, much of the electricity used in California and elsewhere in the United States is generated at central power plants using natural gas or coal. The electricity is then transmitted via transmission and distribution lines, which are not only costly to install, but also are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions as well as disruptions caused by accidental or intentional human activities. At the same time, demand for abundant, reliable, secure and environmentally safe energy continues to grow.
Distributed generation, or DG for short, involves producing electricity near the end user. Major attributes of DG include the avoidance of transmission and distribution line losses, the capture and use of waste heat, and increased reliability of electricity and electric power quality for the consumer. Stationary fuel cells, because of their inherent virtually zero emission of criteria pollutants and low acoustic signature, are perfectly suited for DG.
With the installation of fuel cells, institutions and businesses throughout California are embracing distributed generation as a means of securing onsite power.