Fuel Cell Added to Energy Mix in Japan Community

Renewable energy communities seem to be an increasingly popular approach to introducing new technology into an area power market.

Kyotango City in Japan will receive a 250 kW Direct FuelCell (DFC), which was manufactured by FuelCell Energy, as part of the electric grid servicing a school, a hospital, apartment buildings and city hall in a planned, renewable energy community on the western coast of Japan. “There is a great deal of excitement in Japan over the use of fuel cells to generate power on a community-wide scale,” said Herbert T. Nock, FuelCell Energy’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “In Japan and other Asian and European nations that are attempting to reduce emissions in accordance with the requirements of the Kyoto Protocols, this energy site represents an important double-win for us. It replicates our success in providing power in renewable waste treatment facilities and it goes further in demonstrating the feasibility of tying DFC technology into the grid, as we have previously accomplished in industrial settings.” In keeping with the Kyoto Eco-Energy organization’s desire to balance intermittent power generated by sources such as wind and solar, the fuel cell plant will convert waste from a food processing plant into electricity. Heat energy produced by the power plant also will be used to warm water flowing into the food waste digestion process, which should increase the overall system efficiency. Kyotango City’s DFC power plant is part of an 850 kW mini-grid consisting of the fuel cell unit, a wind turbine, photovoltaics (PV) and gas engines connected in parallel to the local electrical grid. Acknowledging the environmental advantages of the project, Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is supporting the capital and installation cost. “The Eco-Energy Project is ideal for a DFC power generation plant,” said Marc G. Aube, who is the vice president of FuelCell Energy’s Asia subsidiary Marubeni. “Its ultra-clean, highly efficient generation process provides a breakthrough means to enable Japan’s earth-minded municipalities and industry to deploy and stabilize the renewable energy solutions that help parties comply with the Kyoto Protocol.” The Eco-Energy project was launched in 2003 in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture to demonstrate how renewable energy systems can be employed to provide stable power supplies in community settings. It combines the intermittent power from solar and wind sources with biomass energy and fuel cells, which produce electricity on a controllable yet ultra-clean basis.
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