The little powerhouses known as fuel cells have been receiving much attention lately in the United Kingdom. Constructed of a reactive material sandwiched between an anode and cathode, fuel cells could reduce our dependency on batteries, thereby reducing the amount of acidic and harmful waste produced by the batteries upon disposal. It is possible, with additional development, to power vehicles with these cells as well. Furthermore, most current fuel create power using hydrogen and oxygen, leaving water as its only emission. Not only do these devices utilize renewable energy in power generation, they give off renewable energy in the form of water.
Worldwide, many critics claim that fuel cell technology requires too much money to make it commercially viable. Some firms in the United Kingdom, however, are taking the matter into their own hands and raising funds for research and development, quieting some of the naysayers. Intelligent Energy, a cell developer based in Loughborough, England, raised $13.6 million in 2008 to further cell technology. Last year, the firm raised an additional $30 million. To date, Intelligent Energy has raised $130 million in its effort to bring the renewable energy of cells to the commercial stage.
Another United Kingdom-based body promoting a low carbon environment through cell usage is the Carbon Trust. This non-profit trust’s goal is to work with and support businesses and private citizens in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. According to their research, the UK has great potential to develop fuel cell technology at an affordable rate, bringing commercialization of this renewable energy that much closer. Carbon Trust put forth what they term the Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge to leading businesses in the renewable energy field. Interested developers sent letters of interest to Carbon Trust and select associations were chosen to submit proposals for new and affordable fuel technology by April of 2010. Carbon Trust is willing to supply up to £8 million to provide for the program’s success.
While these initiatives demonstrate that fuel usage in the United Kingdom still has plenty of room to grow, it should not be assumed that the renewable energy source is not already in place. In fact, more than 14,000 cells have been sold internationally in the transportation market, powering specialized vehicles such as forklifts. 75% of such cells produced between 2008 and 2009 were assembled in Europe, including the United Kingdom.
With an already strong foundation and millions of dollars being poured into the technology, the United Kingdom is becoming a leader in fuel cell and renewable energy technology.