A promising power backup system that mitigates power outages to critical ITS elements.
Power outages can have a significant safety and operational impact to state departments of transportation (DOTs) including interruption to traffic signal equipped intersections, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and communication hubs. In California, Oregon, Washington, and other western states in particular, utilities may need to turn off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires that can occur when dry conditions and high winds cause trees and debris to contact energized lines and damage utility equipment. Further, power companies typically initiate these Public Safety Power Shutoffs with one hour or less advance notice.
A traditional solution to mitigate power outages at field sites are gas- or diesel-powered portable generator sets. However, these portable generators must be refueled every few hours and need frequent maintenance, requiring extensive manpower commitments. In addition, portable generators are not sustainable and conflict with climate change goals seeking to reduce or eliminate fossil fuel usage. In California, recent legislation eliminates the sale of small gas-powered engines used by portable generators as soon as January 1, 2024. Battery backup power systems connected to the grid also require frequent maintenance and typically only provide power for less than a day.
A promising alternative that reliably and cost effectively mitigates power outages to traffic operations field equipment and other critical ITS elements is a hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) power backup system. The system generally consists of hydrogen fuel cylinders, an HFC cabinet, and electrical connections, switches, and controllers.
Louie La Compte Field Systems Engineer California Department of Transportation, District 11 (San Diego)firstname.lastname@example.org (858) 518-3850