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13 Oct 2009 12:10:09

Challenge aims to drive down fuel cell costs



Challenge aims to drive down fuel cell costs
The Carbon Trust has announced a new initiative aimed at encouraging the development of fuel cell technology.

Called the Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge, the programme is intended to provide a boost to ongoing efforts to commercialise fuel cell power.

According to the organisation, widespread use of this type of power in the transport and domestic utility sectors could save seven million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2050.

It highlighted cost as the main barrier to the establishment of a mass market for fuel cells which, if operational costs were reduced, could be worth $180 billion (£114 billion) by the middle of the century.

The challenge will select three proposals for the production of cheaper fuel cells and offer £1 million in funding to each project, with a further £5 million investment available for commercial development if one proves successful.

David Hart from the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College welcomed the "fresh perspective and coordinated approach" promised by the challenge in pursuing the practical application of the technology.

"For many years fuel cell and hydrogen technologies have been expected to become a cornerstone of a low-carbon, more efficient energy system, but the cost, durability and performance of current fuel cell systems remain unattractive in most applications," he explained.

Fuel cells are currently used in certain products, such as mobile phones and some vehicles, but although sales are growing by 60 percent a year, according to the Carbon Trust, cost limits widespread usage.

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