In a vote of confidence for the technology, a US company has received government funding to develop a fuel cell-driven on-site power plant.

A US$2.8 million award from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office will fund FuelCell Energy’s planned sub-MW trigeneration fuel cell power plant at its manufacturing facility in Torrington, Connecticut.

The plant will generate around 135 kg of hydrogen per day for the facility’s manufacturing processes, plus electricity and heat, replacing both hydrogen that is currently purchased and delivered by truck, and grid power. The facility will showcase the trigeneration capabilities of FuelCell Energy’s technology for industrial applications, the company said.

The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2014.

Once commercially available, FuelCell Energy expects the production cost of hydrogen from its plants to be priced competitively, from $5-$7/kg, or lower with increased production volumes.  In addition, on-site hydrogen generation avoids the costs and pollutants associated with transportation while enhancing the reliability of supply, the company said.