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News Article

CFE Picks Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Substation Backup

By Cas Biekmann | Tue, 01/05/2021 - 15:13

CFE has contracted Israeli company GenCell to deliver 37 hydrogen fuel cells to substations across the country. The US$6 million deal includes two years of service and maintenance, GenCell reports.

The Israel-based manufacturer of fuel cell energy solutions won the contract for DC backup solutions as a result of its participation in an international tender. According to the terms of the tender, CFE reserves the right to acquire up to 74 units of hydrogen fuel cells on the same terms, which would increase the value of the deal by up to US$12 million. The delivery and subsequent deployment of the fuel cells is estimated for the first half of 2021.

GenCell had already sent two of its G5RX backup power solutions to CFE for testing and approval. After successfully completing this project, GenCell deployed two units at CFE substations. The units managed to deliver backup power for a long time after a small earthquake disrupted power supply. GenCell highlights that its fuel cells can provide this backup for a 24-hour period through its power units, further incorporating remote managing software based on IoT to enable preventive maintenance and ensure optimal functionality.

“Following a long and thorough examination of our products, GenCell is extremely pleased to have been selected to supply our G5rx solutions to CFE,” Rami Reshef, CEO of GenCell said. “It is an honor to have been chosen to work with the highly professional team of CFE engineers. We believe that by ensuring emission-free, resilient and long duration backup power for critical assets at substations across Mexico, we can ensure higher quality of service to CFE’s customers. We are proud to play a role in the global hydrogen economy and to assist leading utilities and corporations to fulfill their decarbonization objectives. We look forward to carrying out this important project to further demonstrate the abilities of our fuel cells to bring value to the utilities sector.”

Hydrogen fuel cells have been successfully deployed as a form of grid backup over the last decade or so. Part of their benefits are low maintenance costs and the relative cleanliness of hydrogen fuel cells: even though they are not fully renewable green hydrogen cells, they burn cleaner than diesel-based backups, the US Department of Energy reported back in 2010.

CFE’s tender and its results were announced before the major power outage at the end of December. Industry experts agree that Mexico’s transmission and distribution system is in need of modernization and investment. Backup for substations can help introduce more stability in Mexico’s national electricity system.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
GenCell,, MBN
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst