Sommers Tests Ontario-Made Hydrogen Power Generator


A can-do attitude and decades of experience in power generators is putting a Stratford, Ontario, company at the forefront of hydrogen power. Sommers Generator Systems is piloting a project to supply industry with emissions-free hydrogen power equipment.

The HGDWS 165 ST generator looks and performs like a conventional diesel generator. But it delivers a quiet, mobile, zero-emission, and serviceable system.

Chris McGregor, president, said the company was approached 2 years ago by H2OnSet, a company that enables film and TV production sets to be fed with hydrogen from local producers, using uniquely designed over-the-road trailers. H2OnSet integrates hydrogen production, distribution and use into a holistic turnkey service. They asked Sommers if they would be interested in building a hydrogen powered generator initially for use on TV and film sets. At that time, there was interest, but no marketable products. Some of the challenges for hydrogen fuel cells included cost of equipment, the need for peripheral devices and the unknown performance of operating the equipment. Mr. McGregor thought they could overcome those. “We said, ‘Sure, we can do this”.

Sommers Engineering team led by Frank Noda have designed a generator using fuel cells, although there was interest and still is, the cost was a factor. It was about 10 times the price of a comparable diesel system. As chance would have it, an introduction to a European based manufacturer of diesel and gasoline engines and hydrogen drive solutions. This led to the opportunity to simplify the process, reduce costs and test efficiencies.

The result was a 60 Hz 120/208 V 165 kWe hydrogen generator classified as zero emissions and a smaller footprint.

“Earlier hydrogen generators were bulky, unconventional looking,” said Chris McGregor. “What we’re building today looks almost identical to what our other generators look like but with almost zero emissions.”

Sommers will work closely with the engine manufacturer to provide feedback and operational data for future builds for a wide cross section of industries looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint.

Both aspects appealed to the film industry that wants a mobile unit on a trailer with easy distribution for fuel, quiet running, while significantly reducing any environmental harm. This included SAG-AFTRA members who want the opportunity to work in environmentally friendly sites.

“They are in a quest to produce movies without carbon impact,” added Mr. McGregor. This has great appeal for studios that have made public pledges to decarbonize. Members of the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA), a consortium of Hollywood Studios and Streamers that are seeking more environmentally friendly practices. These units can be used and paralleled to produce as much clean energy required for any application whether it be standby or prime power.”

Although production will begin in the March-April timeframe, Chris McGregor has already begun fielding inquiries from several industries and applications from across the continent. He said the generator will have a big environmental impact on communities.

“The future needs new ways of power generation. Hydrogen has been around for years. Today, it is as safe as any other. We are building these systems,” he concluded.

Source: Sommers Generator Systems

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