solar-driven process. The project recently
signed a supply contract with Air Liquide in
Quebec, which uses hydroelectric power to
electrolyze hydrogen directly. Schubak hopes
to see a hydrogen liquifaction plant in British
Columbia within a few years.
Meanwhile, since August 2007 a North
Vancouver carwash has run on a grid-tied
Nuvera hydrogen fuel cell. Colin Armstrong
of Sacre-Davey Engineering, designer of the
system, reports that the three bay Easy Wash
station uses about 80 kg of hydrogen daily,
generating electricity and hot water with the
150 kilowatt fuel cell and net-metering excess
power out to the grid.
Across town, at the National Research
Council, Eric Fuller reports that a 7 k W photovoltaic array runs an electrolyzer producing 2 kg of hydrogen daily — enough to run
the laboratory’s test fuel cells, amounting to
about 600 watts of capacity.
Schubak notes that commercialization
of hydrogen fuel cells for transport applications is already under way in industrial applications. “Wal-Mart has ordered fuel cell
packs to run fork-lift trucks in its warehouses,” he said. “They can refuel in 3 minutes
instead of recharging batteries for 8 hours.
That doubles the utilization and makes the
technology economical today.”
— Seth Masia
Hawaii May Mandate Solar Water Heating for New Homes
Because it imports all its fuel, Hawaii suffers the highest electric rates in the nation — about
25 cents per kilowatt hour. As a result, 80,000 rooftops, or about 17 percent of all island homes,
are equipped with solar water-heating systems. About 25 percent of new homes are so equipped.
In early May, the Hawaii State Legislature approved Senate Bill 644 with lopsided majori-ties in both houses. The bill would require that by 2010, nearly all new residential construction will incorporate solar water heating. Exemptions may be granted where solar is impractical or insufficiently efficient, as in deeply shaded locations.
If signed by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, the bill would make Hawaii the first in the nation
to require solar thermal in new housing. Spain and Israel already enforce similar requirements.
Sen. Gary Hooser (D-Kauai, Niihau), the bill's introducer, said that it would reduce Hawaii's
oil dependency by 30,000 barrels annually and save homeowners 30 to 35 percent on electricity. This translates to saving a family of four about $600 per year. It would also avoid emission of about 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas.
Hooser expects his measure to reduce the net cost of home ownership, and will cost the
state nothing. Under the bill, about 5,000 new solar installations per year will occur starting
in 2010, worth $30 million in economic activity to the state.
Should Lingle veto the bill, there’s a good chance Hooser could muster an override vote
in the legislature.