Sunday, June 07, 2009

Natural Gas to Europe, Residential Fuel Cells

The map of the proposed Nabucco natural gas pipeline suggests the scope of Europe's need for natural gas. With the global climate showing signs of reversing a recent warming trend, Europe risks freezing in the dark cold winter unless she finds a way to break her uneasy dependency on Russian fuels. North America and Australia already have plenty of natural gas (and coal).
Natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel than coal or oil. Just as important, natural gas works well for fuel cells -- a form of power generation that is growing in importance. In fact, in Japan, in the UK, in the US, and in Australia, home fuel cells for combined residential provision of hot water, space heat, and electricity (CHP) is slowly becoming an important player in the overall power utility scheme.

Of course almost anyone with access to natural gas can provide home CHP (combined heat and power) using a gas-powered combustion generator. But with fuel cells, combined efficiency can reach almost 90%. With a combustion engine, combined CHP efficiencies are closer to 60%.

Regular Al Fin readers will recognise the theme of "independence" and "decentralisation" in the trend toward home generation of power. Being able to produce your own methane or methanol to power your own CHP fuel cell would be even better. Off the grid for power, hot water, heat, cooking, etc. makes you less vulnerable to the Obama / Pelosi reich energy starvation policies.
Cross posted at Al Fin

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