Fuel Cell Tax Credits
Home Fuel Cell Power Generation And Car Draw Government Money
Alternative Energy Tax Credits
Fuel cell technology has been around for a long time but has yet to burst
into the mainstream. Companies that use a lot of electricity have been
experimenting with commercial fuel cell technology for onsite generation
to power server farms and the like, amd it seems like the [primary users
are those with predictable and smooth power requirements and a desire to
be as "green" as possible. You'll know that fuel cells have hit the big time
when aluminum smelters start using them.
Fuel cells for home use are already available, and are especially attractive for off-the-grid applications. Unlike diesel generators, they don't make noise, and unlike windmills and photovoltaics, they don't require battery back-up, which can otherwise double the cost and complication of alternative energy power generation. The government is promoting the adoption of fuel cells for home use through a pretty generous tax credit that's scheduled to last until the end of 2016, so you have plenty of time to get on board. Unlike most credits which are based the cost of the installed system or a fixed amount for a given product, the fuel cell credit also depends on the power generation capability. You can get back 30% of the cost of your fuel cell system, but that's up to $500 per 500Wh (0.5kWh) of power production capacity. The law talks about $1,000 per 1.0kWh, but the minimum qualifying capacity is 500 kWh so the IRS looks documentation treated it in smaller increments.
The math works out like this. If you could buy a 5 kWh fuel cell for $50,000, your maximum tax credit would be limited to $5,000, even though 30% of the cost would be $15,000. I think when the law was passed, back in 2005, estimates of the probable cost of fuel cells was much lower. If you can buy a 5 kWh fuel cell for $16,667, you still get the $5,000, and it coincides with 30% of the system cost, the maximum you can get. Fuel cells have been a long time coming as the patent from 1964 below shows.
The only production fuel cell car is the Honda FCX Clarity, and the government offers a tax credit of $12,000 to buyers, though that seems to contradict another law. And the problem is, it's only available for lease in the next few years, which means unless you are Honda America, you can't qualify for the tax credit, the company doing the leasing gets it. So I couldn't find how much the Honda FCX Clarity cost, though the lease rate is $600/month to the few hundred people in Southern California lucky enough to get one.