Fuel cells generate electricity using an electrochemical reaction, not combustion, so there are no polluting emissions, only water and heat as by-products. Many fuel cells are fueled with hydrogen, which can be derived from a wide range of sources, both traditional and renewable. This includes wind-powered electrolysis, the process of running electricity through water to generate hydrogen and oxygen. Since a fuel cell produces water as a by-product, it can become a sustainable closed-loop system.
The variable nature of wind lowers the efficiency of wind turbines, but fuel cells can provide base-load power that ensures a facility stays powered during times of low or no wind.
In areas with abundant wind, hydrogen and fuel cells are becoming a viable energy storage option. Power-to-Gas (P2G) projects, where the excess electrical energy can be used to produce hydrogen, are on the rise in Europe, mainly Germany, and many incorporate wind turbines. The hydrogen produced via wind electrolysis can then be injected into existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure, or stored and used at a later time to generate electricity in a stationary fuel cell or used to fuel up fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).