Distributed Generation

California has long recognized the link between economic vitality and the guarantee of efficient, low-cost energy. Today, the need for energy security and environmentally friendly energy production have altered the discussion to some degree, but the fact remains that California’s economy ― ranked among the Top 10 in the world ― is inextricably linked to its energy supply.

Today, much of the electricity used in California and elsewhere in the United States is generated at central power plants using coal and natural gas. The electricity is then transmitted via transmission and distribution lines, which are not only costly to install but also are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions as well as disruptions caused by accidental or intentional human activities. At the same time, demand for abundant, reliable, secure and environmentally safe energy continues to grow.

Institutions and businesses throughout California have begun to embrace
distributed generation as a means of securing onsite power,
and fuel cells are among the mix of technologies
available for this purpose.

Distributed generation, or DG for short, involves producing electricity near the end user.  Major attributes of DG include the avoidance of transmission and distribution line losses, the capture and use of waste heat, and increased reliability of electricity and electric power quality for the consumer.  Stationary fuel cells, because of their inherent low emission of criteria pollutants and low acoustic signature, are perfectly suited for DG.  Though DG currently meets only 2.5 percent of the total peak electrical demand in California, there is evidence to suggest that new energy policy in the state could significantly increase the utilization of DG and cogeneration by the year 2020.

The California Hydrogen Highway Network’s "California Hydrogen Blueprint Plan" defines distributed generation (DG) as "the generation of electric power and thermal energy at the location where a substantial fraction of the product is used. In general, DG is in the electric power range of a few kilowatts to 50 megawatts."

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Last updated on January 27, 2014 10:00 AM

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