Research Papers: Energy Systems Analysis

Fuel Cell Backup Power System for Grid Service and Microgrid in Telecommunication Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Zhiwen Ma

National Renewable Energy Laboratory,
15013 Denver West Parkway,
Golden, CO 80401
e-mail: Zhiwen.Ma@nrel.gov

Joshua Eichman

National Renewable Energy Laboratory,
15013 Denver West Parkway,
Golden, CO 80401
e-mail: Joshua.Eichman@nrel.gov

Jennifer Kurtz

National Renewable Energy Laboratory,
15013 Denver West Parkway,
Golden, CO 80401
e-mail: Jennifer.Kurtz@nrel.gov

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received August 25, 2018; final manuscript received November 16, 2018; published online January 18, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Heejin Cho.The United States Government retains, and by accepting the article for publication, the publisher acknowledges that the United States Government retains, a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States government purposes.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 141(6), 062002 (Jan 18, 2019) (10 pages) Paper No: JERT-18-1659; doi: 10.1115/1.4042402 History: Received August 25, 2018; Revised November 16, 2018

This paper presents the feasibility and economics of using fuel cell backup power systems in telecommunication cell towers to provide grid services (e.g., ancillary services, demand response (DR)) as well as power for cell towers during emergency conditions. This study evaluates the strategic integration of clean, efficient, and reliable fuel cell systems with the grid for improved economic benefits. The backup systems can potentially enhance capabilities through information exchange with the power grid, which adds value for grid services that depend on location and time. The economic analysis focused on the potential revenue for distributed telecommunications fuel cell backup units to provide value-added power supply. This paper includes case studies on current fuel cell backup power locations and regional grid service programs. The grid service benefits and system configurations for different operation modes provide opportunities for expanding backup fuel cell applications responsive to grid needs. The objective of this work is primarily on how fuel cells can become a significant part of the telecom backup power fleet to reduce system costs, environmental impact, and dependence on fossil fuels, while ensuring continuity of indispensable service for mobile users. The study identifies different fuel cell applications and nano/microgrid approaches for an extensive network of fuel cells as distributed energy resources. The possibilities of various application scenarios extend to fuel cell technologies and microgrids for reliable power supply.

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Fig. 1

The fuel cell backup power system integrated with a cell tower with renewable (biomass, wind, and solar energy) hydrogen supply

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Fig. 2

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-installed fuel cell backup power location

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Fig. 3

Location of working cell towers (gray) in New Jersey during the 2012 Hurricane Sandy (NREL)

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Fig. 4

Load-connection options of the fuel cell power system in standalone nanogrid, microgrid, and grid-connected modes [8]

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Fig. 5

Transactive energy and nano/microgrid functions for market participation and potential ancillary services [6]

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Fig. 6

A model architecture for load prediction based on weather and utility data to coordinate backup-power operation

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Fig. 7

Control logic for fuel cell backup power operation

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Fig. 8

Distribution of day-ahead hourly energy prices ($/MWh) for different regions in 2015

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Fig. 9

Electricity price by the fuel cell backup power

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Fig. 10

Relative capital cost increases for 72 h systems from reductions in lifetime due to greater usage



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