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Our Hydrogen Future

Jason Few

August 9, 2023

The telephone and the incandescent lightbulb, two groundbreaking inventions of the 1870s, have come a long way since their inception. They have evolved, improved, and reshaped the way we communicate and illuminate our world. Surprisingly, while technology has advanced at an unprecedented pace, one element remains largely untouched: the heating oil tank, a relic of the past that has failed to keep up with the changing times.

In an era where sustainable energy solutions are more crucial than ever, it's concerning to witness the stagnation of such a significant component of our energy infrastructure. The heating oil tank, inherently inefficient and burdened with a 40 percent higher carbon intensity than natural gas, desperately requires a modern-day transformation.

At its core, the heating oil tank is nothing more than a battery--a storage vessel for potential energy. It holds oil until we require warmth, converting it into heat. Similarly, the batteries in our phones and other devices hold energy until we need it.

While the idea of a battery or energy storage may seem mundane, extraordinary strides are being made in that challenge our traditional perception of this core aspect of energy usage. Energy storage represents the linchpin in our journey towards clean electricity that can sustainably power our lives. To truly revolutionize energy storage, we need to shift our focus to hydrogen.

Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe and the first element on the periodic table, holds immense potential. Despite our familiarity with it in compounds like water (H2O), we rarely encounter hydrogen in its pure form due to its lightweight nature, which causes it to float away into space. However, through electrolysis, a process that employs renewable electricity and water, we can produce zero-carbon hydrogen for energy storage.

FuelCell Energy, a leading provider of fuel cell solutions, has emerged as a trailblazer in utilizing hydrogen for clean energy storage. Our innovative and solid oxide electrolysis system, the leader in efficiency, harnesses electrolysis to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. This hydrogen can then be efficiently stored and used to power fuel cells, generating electricity with zero harmful emissions.

The potential benefits of hydrogen extend far beyond a cleaner energy alternative. Its higher energy density compared to fossil fuels makes it more efficient, thereby reducing our dependence on environmentally harmful resources. Additionally, hydrogen can address the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, smoothing fluctuations and ensuring a consistent power supply.

The transition towards hydrogen-based energy storage is well underway, with numerous countries and companies investing in research and infrastructure.

As the world increasingly embraces sustainability and strives for a carbon-neutral future, it is imperative to explore and invest in innovative energy solutions like hydrogen. Holding vast potential, hydrogen stands as a versatile and abundant resource with a zero-carbon footprint, offering the pathway to a clean and resilient energy system.

Just as the telephone and lightbulb revolutionized communication and lighting, hydrogen has the power to redefine how we store and utilize energy. The time has come to transcend the limitations of the archaic oil tank and embrace cleaner, more efficient alternatives. Let us endeavor to imagine a world powered by hydrogen, where practical and sustainable energy storage is the norm.

Jason Few

Jason Few is President and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc, a global leader in fuel cell technology focused on distributed power, hydrogen, energy storage, and carbon capture. FuelCell Energy’s purpose is to enable a world empowered by clean energy. For more than 30 years, he has been a business leader, entrepreneur, and technology leader across various industries, often all at once. Jason has worked at the intersection of transformation across technology and energy for Global Fortune 500, small/mid-cap, and privately held energy, technology, and telecommunications firms including NRG/Reliant, Continuum Energy, Motorola, and Sustayn Analytics L.L.C., a hardware and cloud-based data analytics recycling software as a service company. Jason is renowned for his decisive stance on high-stakes projects, including Reliant Energy, where he engineered a billion-dollar turnaround, transforming it into a multi-brand, multi-product consumer services company, much like the transformation he is also engineering at FuelCell Energy. Jason is a member of The Business Council, serves on the Boards of FuelCell Energy, Inc., Enbridge Inc., and formally served on the Boards of Marathon Oil Corporation and Syniverse Technologies. He is also a member of the Hydrogen Council. Jason has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Systems in Business from Ohio University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

FuelCell Energy's 2023 Sustainability Report is now available. Learn more