NEW YORK - The Sheraton New York has begun using electricity and heat generated by a fuel cell installed under the distributed generation program of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The 250-kW, natural gas-powered unit at the flagship Starwood Hotel represents the first New York City hotel to adopt the technology.

The fuel cell converts natural gas to hydrogen that is used to generate the power. The process typically doubles output efficiency over traditional generators because it captures and employs the waste heat from the process, says NYSERDA.

"We were pleased to work with Starwood, PPL Corporation, and ConEd to bring this project to operation," said NYSERDA President Peter R. Smith. "This also represents a first step in a strategic effort to place distributed generation fuel cells at key grid bottlenecks throughout the city. They will provide clean, quiet power to help ensure safe and reliable electric service during peak demand periods."

NYSERDA provided a $920,000 incentive toward the total project cost of $1.84 million. It has funded installation of eight other units, at waste water treatment facilities in the ConEd service territory, and two more units at educational institutions upstate. Fuel cells are one part of the Distributed Generation/Combined Heat and Power Program that, to date, has committed more than $41 million to supporting 88 distributed generation systems for a combined output of 82 megawatts of power across the state.

"Fuel cells are recognized as a clean, renewable source of energy under Governor George E. Pataki's Renewable Portfolio Standard that aims for a quarter of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2013. They offer good efficiency and virtually no pollution," Smith said.

The DFC 300 FuelCell Energy unit was installed and is being operated by PPL. It will provide 250 kW of power around the clock and 300,000 Btuh to the hotel's main steam loop. It is also designed to provide standby lighting service to 20 floors during power outages.

Publication date: 06/27/2005