Can fuel cells make a difference in improving air quality in Texas? And, if so, can the technology be made more readily available to the state's utilities and industry?
The committee appointed to advise the energy office will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) in the Woodlands. The meeting, which begins at 9 a.m., is open to the public. The Committee will look for ways to encourage the manufacture, marketing and installation of fuel cells in residential, commercial or industrial applications.
"Just as Texas has been in the forefront in fossil fuels technology, we need to lead the nation and the world in clean fuel cell technology and manufacturing," said Rep. Debra Danburg, author of H.B. 2845. "As we commercialize the production of fuel cells, not only will we be cleaning the air and providing energy independence, but we will be creating jobs for Texans."
Ralph Marquez, Commissioner of the Texas Natural Resources and Conservation Commission (TNRCC) and Alan C. Lloyd, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, will be among those providing testimony at the meeting. Also expected are State Representative Tommy Williams, Mayor Lee Brown, and representatives of the TNRCC, the Texas Department of Economic Development, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, and Fuel Cells Texas.
Dr. Lloyd says that Texas' work on fuel cells can have a positive effect far beyond its borders. He explained that California is a founding partner in the Fuel Cell Partnership, a group pioneering fuel cells in automobiles as well as the Fuel Cell Collaborative, another group helping to introduce fuel cells in stationary source applications, including distributed generation.
"We know that, the more demand there is for fuel cells, the more quickly their prices will drop," Lloyd said. "The end result will be cleaner air, lower prices and a more stable supply of electricity."
Patrice "Pete" Parsons, director of HARC's Fuel Cell Research & Applications Center, said that the public hearings are important because perspectives from both industry and government will be shared. "If we can determine what the impediments to commercialization in Texas are, then it may be possible to provide real incentives that can stimulate development," she said. "Quite simply, we must work together and act quickly."
Population and industrial growth in the state's urban areas have increased the demand for reliable electric power. While small-scale distributed generation (DG) technologies can ease the strain on the electrical grid and reduce the potential for power outages, some DG technologies emit significantly more emissions per-kilowatt-hour than large central power plants and therefore would contribute to increased air pollution if widely used.
Fuel cells are the exception and hold significant promise to meet increased demand for power. Affordable fuel cell technologies are not quite ready for market. H.B. 2845, passed by the 77th Legislative Session, requires the State Energy Conservation Office to develop a plan to accelerate the commercialization of fuel cells in Texas and to find ways to encourage their use in Texas homes and businesses.
For directions to HARC, visit, http://www.harc.edu/maptoharc.html; for meeting agenda, visit, www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us
EDITORS: Please note, a news conference will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13 in HARC's Fuel Cell Laboratory.
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