Hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday, October 29th as a category one storm leaving hundreds to thousands of people without power for several days due to a loss of electricity supply from the grid to homes, hospitals, emergency shelters, and grocery stores. However, within regions where the grid lost power, nearly two dozen businesses were able to keep the lights on thanks to their ability to produce power onsite with a stationary fuel cell.
While stationary fuel cells are generally designed to provide 24/7 baseload power in parallel with the electrical grid, several are designed to switch over to an “islanding” mode, allowing a business owner to continue to produce electric power even in the case of a grid outage.
UTC Power, as a global fuel cell provider, saw their systems supply electricity to their customers in the New York and New England area during one of the region’s most horrific hurricanes on record. 23 of UTC Power’s PureCell System Model 400 fuel cells are located in regions that were affected by hurricane Sandy. 22 PureCell Model 400 fuel cells were able to provide power in a grid-independent mode while the grid was out of operation. Due to a system fan failure, one of the fuel cell systems in Fairfield, CT shut down but was then repaired as soon as it was safe for a technician to get to the site. The fuel cell was able to be restarted even while the grid was down. Of the 23 systems in the affected region 16 are located within the state of Connecticut, and the rest in the New York and New England areas. Two fuel cells in areas that experienced longer power outages, ran independently of the grid for 26 hours.