DTE Energy Technologies, Inc. (DTE; Detroit, Michigan, U.S.) recently installed two fuel cells manufactured by Plug Power Inc. (Latham, New York, U.S.) provide backup power at a Detroit Edison power station in a project intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using the technology in conjunction with the traditional power grid.

DTE Energy Technologies and Detroit Edison are subsidiaries of DTE Energy, which owns a 28 percent share of Plug Power. DTE installed the fuel cells at Detroit Edison's Hancock Station in Commerce Township, Michigan.

The 5 kilowatt (kW) proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems operate to provide 2.5 kW each of electrical output and will support the battery systems that provide backup power to the control circuits for the power station's five natural gas-fired turbine peaker units. Those units generate electricity during peak demand periods.

The one-year project will include a joint effort to test the functionality, operation and maintenance requirements, and determine if future generations of fuel cells may eventually replace the backup battery systems at power stations and other critical utility applications. It also will validate DTE Energy Technologies' System Operations Center(TM) that monitors, dispatches and performs energy trading activities for distributed power units via the internet. The project objective also is to assess the use of fuel cells to improve the reliability of battery systems at power stations by providing a grid- independent source to charge the batteries.