DANBURY, Conn. — FuelCell Energy Inc. has announced a project to install a 1.4 megawatt (MW) fuel cell power plant to provide both electricity and usable heat to the University of California (UC) Irvine Medical Center. The power plant will generate about 30 percent of facility power needs, while the heat produced will be used in a direct exhaust absorption chiller to produce 200 tons of cooling for an office building and associated institutional requirements. The medical center, a campus with a 412-bed acute care facility, will gain on-site power while avoiding a capital investment by purchasing the power and heat under a multi-year power purchase agreement. FuelCell Energy will install, operate, and maintain the plant.
“The University of California is a national leader in sustainability and effective actions to reduce greenhouse gases as we work towards carbon neutrality by the year 2025,” said Morris Frieling, chief financial officer, UC Irvine Medical Center. “This fuel cell installation fits perfectly with our ambitious goals of adopting alternative energy sources, embracing energy efficiency, and supporting California’s carbon cap and trade program, all while enhancing our power reliability with on-site power generation.”
“Stationary fuel cell power plants are a solution whose time has come for addressing the myriad of power generation challenges facing our society,” said Professor Scott Samuelsen, director, National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine. “The value is clear, ranging from the avoidance of costly and inefficient power transmission, to enhanced power reliability from on-site generation, to the attractive emission profile of fuel cells with their low carbon footprint and virtual absence of criteria pollutants.”
The power plant will be configured for combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP) so that the same unit of fuel generates both clean power and usable heat that will be used both for heating water and converting a portion of the heat into cooling for air conditioning. By reducing usage of electricity based chillers for space cooling, the medical center will benefit financially through avoided electricity costs and support the environment by avoiding the pollutants and greenhouse gases emitted by centralized conventional power plants. The heat will be turned into cooling via a direct exhaust absorption chiller. This CCHP Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plant installation is exempt from air permitting under the California South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 219, due to the low carbon and virtual absence of criteria pollutants, accelerating the project development process.
“This project is a private/public partnership demonstrating how private capital can support public goals with clean and affordable power for a public institution,” said Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer, FuelCell Energy Inc. “Due to the highly efficient power generation process, stationary fuel cell power plants are virtually absent of the pollutants that cause smog and acid rain and are exempt from the State of California Cap-and-Trade Program so UC Irvine Medical Center will see its compliance obligation reduced, avoiding carbon tax payments and increasing savings.”
FuelCell Energy is developing this project and expects to close on permanent financing on or before the commercial operation date of the power plant. The medical center has entered into a multi-year power purchase agreement to buy the electricity produced by the fuel cell power plant, while the cooling benefits are provided as an additional benefit to the medical center.
For more information, visit www.fuelcellenergy.com.
Publication date: 7/7/2014