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Sprint Receives $7.3 M DOE Grant for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Deployment

doehydrogenprogramSprint has been awarded a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding earmarked for fuel cell technology. The grant funding will be used to expand Sprint’s hydrogen fuel cell program at cell sites throughout the United States.

The wireless carrier said it is the largest single grant awarded by the DoE for this round of grant funding, which totaled $41.9 million. Sprint uses the hydrogen fuel cells for providing around 15 hours of back-up power before needing to refuel. As part of this grant, Sprint will work with hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, tank providers and hydrogen suppliers to extend the unassisted run-time to 72 hours.

As part of its sustainability efforts, Sprint has deployed more than 250 hydrogen fuel cells in its network, and has been awarded a total of three Department of Energy grants to deploy new hydrogen fuel cell technologies. The company says hydrogen fuel cells provide a much cleaner alternative to diesel-powered back-up generators, which have been used in the past.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the funding will accelerate the commercialization and deployment of fuel cells and will create jobs in fuel cell manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and support services. Click here for a detailed state-by-state list of awards for the $41.9 million funding.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the DoE also recently released two competitive solicitations for up to $2 billion in federal funding for electric-vehicle advanced batteries and related drive components, and up to $400 million for transportation electrification demonstration and deployment projects.

In addition, Sprint recently announced environmental goals that include reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 percent and securing 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2017.

Sprint isn’t the only wireless carrier deploying hydrogen fuel cells. Verizon, a wireline and wireless communications company,  announced last year that it’s call-switching center and office building in Garden City, N.Y., uses seven fuel cells, which it claims as the nation’s largest fuel cell site. Verizon says the system provides as much as 80 percent of the facility’s power load when all seven fuel cells are activated, eliminating 11.1 million pounds of GHG emissions per year.

Verizon just announced that its conservation efforts in 2008 reduced its GHG emissions by more than 303,000 metric tons, which the company estimates is equivalent to taking more than 55,500 cars off the road. The company says its carbon intensity is approximately nine times below the U.S. average, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Verizon’s rate of 64 metric tons of CO2 emissions per million dollars in revenue represents a year-over-year improvement of 3 percent.

Other environmental initiatives launched in 2008 include a pilot project that reduces the energy used by computers and monitors, and a program to limit engine idling, which cut fuel consumption by more than 1 million gallons. The telecommunications company also requires that the network equipment it purchases be 20 percent more energy efficient.

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