With the U.S. Congress once again debating an energy bill that could potentially allow oil drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), we thought it appropriate to profile two companies involved in alternative energy technologies.
FuelCell Energy (FCEL – NASDAQ) is a leader in developing fuel cells for distributed power generation. With an electric grid that has shown its age and limitations over the past several summers, there is growing demand for reliable, secure, low-emissions power production. Stationary fuel cells allow customers to produce power on-site instead of having to rely on the local utility. FuelCell Energy’s focus on stationary fuel cells instead of more difficult automotive applications has allowed the company to approach commercialization more rapidly than some of its competitors. Its target customers include utilities, industrial plants, wastewater treatment plants, data centers, hospitals and hotels.
The company’s molten carbonate technology allows for the efficient and low-emission generation of power from a variety of fuels, including natural gas, biomass, and wastewater treatment gas. FuelCell Energy’s Direct FuelCell power plants generate hydrogen internally from these fuels. An electrochemical process then converts that hydrogen into electric power.
FuelCell Energy’s fuel cells have been installed for field trials in a number of sites, including some that are tied into the conventional electric grid. The trials have shown that the product works, but now the company needs to lower the cost to make it competitive with conventional power plants. We expect meaningful commercial sales to begin in the 2005-2007 time frame.