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South Africa: Fuel cells to power remote locations

The IFC granted $3-million grant to install 400 fuel cells in remote locations and cities of South Africa.
The $3-million grant awarded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to South African company IST Holdings, and US partner Plug Power, to install 400 fuel cells in remote locations and cities of South Africa is 10% complete, says IST Holdings power systems GM Kennith Shuda.

Increased demand for reliable power throughout South Africa has prompted the construction of additional power-generating capacity and the simultaneous upgrade of existing infrastructure, both of which can benefit from the capabilities provided by Plug Power’s GenCore fuel cell.

Plug Power’s GenCore unit is expected to become an important component in the expansion of utility infrastructure throughout South Africa, observes an IST Holdings official.

The fuel cells will provide a reliable source of electricity and will replace polluting technologies such as diesel generators.

Fuel cells use an elec-trochemical reaction, rather than combustion, to produce electricity. The device converts chemical energy from a fuel, such as hydrogen, into electricity and heat, with water being the only waste product. It is similar to a battery in that it also produces direct-current electricity. However, unlike a battery, which is limited to the stored energy within it, a fuel cell is able to generate power as long as fuel is supplied.

IFC is introducing fuel cells as a preferred technology for privately financed, distributed, stationary power applications in developing countries. The first stage of this initiative will consist of up to three indi- vidual pilot projects that will demonstrate the value of stationary fuel-cell technology in eco-nomic and environmental terms in developing countries.

Additional information: Read the full story at Engineering News.
News date: 20/04/2007

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