Fuel Cell Backup Power System for Grid Service and Micro-Grid in Telecommunication Applications: Preprint

Zhiwen Ma, Joshua Eichman, Jennifer Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper presents the feasibility and economics of using fuel cell backup power systems in telecommunication cell towers to provide grid services (e.g., ancillary services, demand response). The fuel cells are able to provide power for the cell tower during emergency conditions. This study evaluates the strategic integration of clean, efficient, and reliable fuel cell systems with the grid for improved economic benefits. The backup systems have potential as enhanced capability through information exchanges with the power grid to add value as grid services that depend on location and time. The economic analysis has been focused on the potential revenue for distributed telecommunications fuel cell backup units to provide value-added power supply. This paper shows case studies on current fuel cell backup power locations and regional grid service programs. The grid service benefits and system configurations for different operation modes provide opportunities for expanding backup fuel cell applications responsive to grid needs. The objective of this work primarily focuses on how fuel cells can become a significant part of the telecom backup power to reduce system costs, environmental impact, and dependence on fossil fuels, while ensuring continuity of indispensable service for mobile users. The study identifies the approaches on the fuel cell application through nano/microgrids for an extensive network of fuel cells as distributed energy resources. The possibilities of various application scenarios extend the fuel cell technologies and microgrid for reliable power supply.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2018
EventASME 2018 Power and Energy Conference - Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Duration: 24 Jun 201828 Jun 2018


ConferenceASME 2018 Power and Energy Conference
CityLake Buena Vista, Florida

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5500-72824 for paper as published in ASME proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-70990


  • backup power
  • cell tower
  • fuel cells
  • grid service
  • hydrogen
  • microgrid


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