Fuel cells are seen by the general public as a new and potentially risky energy source, despite their long history of reliable operation. Fuel cells have been applied in critical applications since their deployment in NASA’s Gemini missions in the mid-1960’s. They are still being used in today’s space shuttles to provide electrical power and drinking water. Over the past decade hundreds of stationary systems have been installed in commercial applications for primary, backup and supplemental power. To promote a better understanding of the benefits of fuel cells, a wider dissemination of real world performance data is needed to show the efficiency, reliability and economic reality of fuel cells. Fuel cell performance is of special interest to the mission critical data center industry, which is slowly considering blending conventional and alternative power sources. Fuel cells are a cleaner and more efficient alternative to grid-supplied electricity in addition to being a viable alternative to batteries and diesel generators for backup power. In areas with poor grid reliability or other power quality issues, fuel cells can be used as the primary power source to provide high quality prime power while the grid provides backup and supplemental power. Waste heat from the fuel cells may be captured and used for space heating or hot water production, or used in absorption chillers to provide air-conditioning for server rooms. With a well-designed heat recovery system, the overall combined heat and power efficiency of a fuel cell installation can approach 90%. This paper will discuss the implementation and applications of the web-based fuel cell monitoring system currently being deployed across Connecticut to promote fuel cell technology awareness and highlight their economic benefits. This monitoring system is being used as a proof-of-concept demonstration that is expected to drive technology adoption in the very competitive and critical private sector data center industry. The monitoring system is already providing publicly accessible data on fuel cell performance via the Internet, and can be used to analyze real-world fuel cell performance data from a wide variety of applications as the system is expanded across the state.

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