One of my first assignments when I was a reporter for this magazine was a story on the flap over the Environmental Protection Agency's 1990 draft report on electromagnetic fields (EMF).
The fuel cell article in the March 15 Fortnightly twice mentions a target of $50 per kilowatt for fuel cells. (See "Fuel Cells: White Knight for Natural Gas?" p. 22.)
I hadn't heard that target before. At that price, something like the General Electric/Plug Power residential unit of 7 kilowatts would cost $350 (instead of something like $3,500, which has been talked about). Anything close to $50 per kilowatt would be truly incredible.
I read "The Business Case for Fuel Cell Technology," the AdvanceTech Monitor report cited in the article as one of the sources of this information, which does indeed talk about $50 per kilowatt for automobiles. It goes on to talk about a cost of $500 to $600 per kilowatt for residential use, which poses some interesting questions. Given that fuel cells are "scalable," it's hard to see how adapting the technology from a 50-kW car to a 7-kW home could create a tenfold increase in cost per kilowatt. Both uses of fuel cells will require a reformer (at least until hydrogen shows up at the gas station). And of course, the home fuel cell will require a DC-AC inverter, but at mass production levels, the inverter cost wouldn't explain a tenfold increase.
Does this mean that the transportation cost per kilowatt is too low or that the home cost per kilowatt is too high?