Santa Clarita to use hydrogen fuel cells as backup power for traffic lights

Santa Clarita to use hydrogen fuel cells as backup power for traffic lights

December 22, 2021 0 By Bret Williams

The Californian city is using H2 as an important step forward in sustainable public safety measures.

The city of Santa Clarita, located just to the north of Los Angeles, California, has announced that it is using hydrogen fuel cells as a part of a considerable public safety step during power outages.

The city is using a new backup system powered by H2 to keep traffic lights running in outages.

The first step in Santa Clarita’s deployment of the project is to install a new hydrogen fuel cell backup power system at one major intersection controlled by traffic lights. The intersection chosen to launch this project is at Soledad Canyon Road and Whites Canyon Road in Canyon Country. The idea is to be able to use the carbon emission-free power to keep the traffic light running even in the case of a power failure on the grid.

The new H2-powered system is not the first of its type in the country. That said, it is certainly among the first handful to have been installed. It will keep traffic lights at their intersections running normally for over 50 hours of grid power outages. This not only offers the opportunity to keep the lights operating without carbon emissions, but it also does so for considerably longer than the traditional battery backup systems. Those conventional battery-based systems will usually keep an intersection powered for about 8 hours.

Hydrogen fuel cells - Traffic light

Santa Clarita chose its first intersection for the hydrogen fuel cells because of the heavy traffic there.

The intersection at Soledad Canyon Road and Whites Canyon Road is a major one and the lights control substantial vehicular traffic. That said, the intersection has been affected by a number of Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events over the last few years. These have resulted in negative impacts on traffic flow through this major intersection.

By upgrading the backup power system, Santa Clarita hopes to be able to maintain public safety by keeping traffic flowing normally even when the power is out on the grid, as was the case during the PSPS events.

Using hydrogen fuel cells makes it possible to reduce the requirement for city field staff to manually install and operate noisy and polluting gas or diesel generators after battery backups have been depleted. It also removes the requirement for staff to manually operate stop signs in the intersection to control the traffic.