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Department of Energy recognizes S.C. as a leader in fuel cell technology

Staff Report
Published Jan. 6, 2014

South Carolina has been recognized for the third straight year by the U.S. Department of Energy for its leadership in domestic fuel cell manufacturing and deployment. Meanwhile, the agency cited Spartanburg for showing growing support for fuel cells and becoming catalysts for the fuel cell industry.

In its State of the States, Fuel Cells in America 2013 report released just before Christmas, the Energy Department listed South Carolina among the top five states for leading the country with continued and expanded support for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies — helping to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency and create new job and business opportunities.

Other members of the top five are California, Connecticut, New York and Ohio.

South Carolina had made the top five list in the agency’s first State of the States report issued in 2011 and then again last year.

According to the Energy Department, examples of how South Carolina is leading in the development of fuel cell technology include:

  • The Savannah River National Laboratory and EngenuitySC partnership to bring new innovations out of the lab to the marketplace. The agreement calls for the national laboratory to provide technical expertise on hydrogen innovation to the Fuel Cell Collaborative on various projects.
  • The Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative, formed in 2006, comprises SCRA, the city of Columbia, University of South Carolina, Midlands Technical College, and EngenuitySC. The group’s mission is to make the Midlands a leader in fuel cell innovation and technology and attract private sector partners, fuel cell scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators. The organization also aims to collaborate with private sector leaders for fuel cell deployments in the city, university and commercial applications, the Energy Department said.
  • BMW’s production facility in Spartanburg County. The luxury automaker’s only U.S. plant hosts the world’s largest fuel cell material handling fleet. BMW recently added 175 more fuel cell pallet trucks and forklifts to boost its fleet to 275 across the 4 million-square-foot plant.

Currently the fleet is fueled by hydrogen provided by Linde, but BMW is working with SCRA on a two-year landfill gas-to-hydrogen pilot project. Methane piped 9.5 miles from the Palmetto Landfill in Wellford supplies have of the plant’s electricity and heating needs. BMW also is participating in two hydrogen storage projects with the Energy Department.

The United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, the Energy Department said. In 2012, nearly 80% of total investment in the global fuel cell industry was made in U.S. companies.

“Building a U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water, gives businesses more transportation options and reduces oil dependence,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As part of an all-of-the-above energy approach, fuel cell technologies are paving the way to competitiveness in the global clean energy market and to new jobs and business creation across the country.”

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