One MW Fuel Cell Power Plant for California State University

FuelCell Energy and its partner Alliance Power announced the sale of a one megawatt (MW) fuel cell power plant to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for a combined heat and power (CHP) application to help the university meet its goals for greater energy independence, capital growth, cost management and increased use of green power.

CSUN’s unit will be the single largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world and is the seventh DFC plant of any capacity installed at a university. Because the units are quiet and environmentally friendly, they often can be installed close to the classrooms and dorms where energy is needed. Other university sites with DFC power plant installations include Yale University in Connecticut, Ocean County College in New Jersey, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, State University of New York at Syracuse, Chosun University Hospital in Korea, and Pohang University in Korea. The Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant will generate base load electricity for the university’s facilities and surplus heat for hot water. Uniquely, the university also plans on routing exhaust from the heat exchanger into an adjacent greenhouse and arboretum to enhance photosynthesis, boosting plant growth and harvests by 10 to 40 percent. The carbon dioxide enrichment potential provided by the fuel cell plant may be used for specialized plant research, or as a convention of study within the regular biology academic program — an opportunity rarely made available to baccalaureate biology students. The DFC power plant will be commissioned in the second half of 2006 and operated by CSUN with technical support from FuelCell Energy and Alliance Power. Students have provided significant support for clean energy technology initiatives, and the California State University (CSU) has established itself as the nation’s leading academic institution taking action to stop global warming. After two years of lobbying by students, the CSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously for one of the most comprehensive university policies on clean energy in the U.S. Part of the resolution called for all new buildings beginning in 2006/2007 to meet the CSU Sustainability Measurement System certified level which shall be equivalent to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, with regard to the microclimates and physical diversity of the CSU campuses. Campuses are encouraged to strive for Silver level performance, within budget constraints. The policy also encouraged clean and ultra-clean cogenerating energy technologies including fuel cells. CSUN began its drive to install onsite power generation from clean technologies in 2002 with the installation of 692 kilowatts (kW) of solar panels that provide a portion of the campus’ peaking electricity requirements. “We continue to see strong demand for ultra-clean onsite power generation in California, with many customers looking for megawatt-class DFC installations for firm, base load combined heat and power applications,” said James Michael, President of Alliance Power. “The high efficiency and ultra-clean DFC power plants address two significant issues in the California market — high energy costs and strict air quality standards.” Southern California Gas, administrator for the CPUC’s Self Generation Program for the Northridge area, issued a reservation letter that will provide incentive funding of up to $2.25 million of eligible project costs and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has committed an additional $500,000 incentive to the CSUN DFC power plant installation.
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