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Green Building & Sustainable Development

North America's First Solar/Hydrogen Home Now Scheduled for Completion

The first solar/hydrogen home in North America received all necessary permits and is now scheduled to be completed in the fall, it was announced today by Renewable Energy International, Inc.

Marking a major milestone in the development of the sustainable-resource economy, the home is located in Hopewell, NJ, approximately 70 miles from Manhattan. It features an advanced residential solar/hydrogen fuel-cell storage and generation system that converts energy between electricity and hydrogen, and will be integrated into an existing solar and geothermal system at the home of Mr. Michael Strizki. Mr. Strizki has also played a key role in the project's advancement.

Major funding for this project has been provided by a grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). Part of a statewide clean energy initiative, the objective of the NJBPU program is to transform the energy marketplace in New Jersey toward more energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies. This home will be the first recipient of New Jersey's fuel cell rebate program. Only fuel cells being fueled by renewable energy sources qualify for the rebate.

Completion of this project will represent a significant achievement toward furthering New Jersey's commitment to clean energy and will help to maintain the state's position at the forefront of government support for renewable- energy innovation and for incentives to reduce energy costs while protecting the environment.

Lyle K. Rawlings, P.E., president of Advanced Solar Products, is the design engineer for the project. "This installation is far more than just a demonstration project," explains Mr. Rawlings.

"This home and its power system have been engineered to function either with or without an electrical grid connection. Addition of the hydrogen-based power system is a retrofit. It will be possible to replicate this type of home improvement anywhere."

Mr. Strizki adds, "When the house was built fourteen years ago, it was designed to be energy efficient. But, no compromises were made to limit modern conveniences. My house boasts a host of amenities not normally seen in ecologically-sensitive homes, including a swimming pool, hot tub, and flat- screen television."

Electrical energy generated by solar panels in amounts that exceed immediate household requirements is used to convert water into hydrogen. The hydrogen is stored until it is converted back into electricity through a fuel cell when demand for power is greater than the capacity of the solar panels can provide. So, in effect, on summer days the system collects hydrogen that is used on winter nights.

Hydrogen generated by the system will also be available for on-site fueling of hydrogen powered vehicles as well as for a variety of uses in the home such as generating hot water, powering appliances, and cooking.

A HOGEN RE generator, manufactured by the Proton Energy Systems subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp., is being used to make the system's hydrogen. "This is exactly the kind of groundbreaking project that demonstrates quite compellingly the emerging practicality of renewable energy technology," said Rob Friedland, Sr. Vice President for Proton's Hydrogen Technology Group. "Our successful collaboration with Renewable Energy International, Mike Strizki, Advanced Solar and the State of New Jersey enables us to prove that generating hydrogen using Proton's PEM electrolysis hydrogen generation can significantly reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions in real world applications."

The system also incorporates fuel cells manufactured by Plug Power, battery banks manufactured by Exide Technologies, and direct coupling lighting gateways manufactured by Nextek Power Systems. Invaluable consulting services were provided by Bob Davidson of Davidson Code Concepts.

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