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Over here in the United States, UTC Power has racked up several significant high profile fuel cell installations with more coming down the pipeline.
UTC Power Chalking Up Fuel Cell Installations

By Jennifer Gangi, Fuel Cells 2000


A recent article in the magazine, Building Design, discusses the future use of fuel cells in new buildings, quoting an engineer working on five separate fuel cell projects in London as saying “Ten to 15 years from now, every single new building will be powered by fuel cells…It’s the magic bullet — until we get fusion power going.” As much as we may support that idea, it may be a little optimistic to predict all buildings will be powered by fuel cells, yet London has an aggressive plan to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent in new commercial buildings and fuel cells could help achieve that goal. Just last year, Ballard Power Systems and Plug Power sponsored a study outlining the role fuel cells can play in addressing the issues of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and seems the idea is catching on.

Over here in the United States, UTC Power has racked up several significant high profile fuel cell installations with more coming down the pipeline. First came the big news that UTC Power was selected by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to supply 12 fuel cells totaling 4.8 megawatts of power for the Freedom Tower and three other new towers under construction at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. The fuel cells are set to be delivered in January 2009 and will constitute one of the largest fuel cell installations in the world.

The lions at the Bronx Zoo also have something to roar about. NYPA is planning to install another UTC 200-kW fuel cell in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s “Madagascar!” exhibit inside the restored historic Lion House.  The fuel cell will operate in conjunction with the existing on-site Bronx Zoo power facility and the Con Edison power grid with the excess heat captured and used for heating the facility. The Lion House will be the first landmark building in New York City that will receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

UTC is helping to bring spread the LEED movement into the supermarket market, where constant power is needed for refrigeration of perishable items, frozen goods, HVAC, electronics and lighting. Price Chopper Supermarkets has broken ground on a new store in Colonie, New York, that will be the first LEED certified supermarket in the state. The new 69,000 square foot store and pharmacy is slated to open in Spring of 2009 and will incorporate a PureCell® Model 400 fuel cell. For this project, Price Chopper was able to take advantage of the New York State Energy Research Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) New Construction Program. This program offers technical assistance and funding to developers, architects, and engineers for the design and construction of high performance and green buildings. New York offers other tax credits as well.

The fuel cell will generate approximately 60 percent of the store’s power needs and will also be capable of providing 400kW of standby power if there’s a grid failure, enabling the store to operate without disruption.

Another supermarket just announced its commitment to clean energy in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The new Star Market, slated to open in 2009, will be installing one of UTC’s PureCell® Model 400 fuel cell that will provide power for store operations. By using absorption chiller technology, the fuel cell’s excess heat can be captured and use to cool refrigeration cases.

For these projects, UTC can draw on its experience in the grocery world – the company recently installed a 200-kW fuel cell at a brand-new 46,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery store that was built in Glastonbury, Connecticut. That unit will be generating 50 percent of the electricity and heat and nearly 100 percent of the hot water needed to operate the store. It is configured for grid-independent operation and will also provide standby power if needed. Whole Foods took advantage of an Onsite Renewable Energy grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) to help defray the fuel cell’s cost.

Over in East Hartford, Connecticut, Cabela's, a sporting goods retailer, just finished installing four UTC 200-kW fuel cells in the area between its store and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft (part of the UTC family) – a 650-acre area that used to be an airport but is now home to both Cabela’s megastore and the state-owned Rentschler Field football stadium. The fuel cells will provide base load power for the whole store and for décor, were decorated with huge butterflies and flowers. The units cost about $850,000 each but Cabela’s estimates that they will save more than $60,000 per year on energy costs, after adding in savings from the fuel cells’ heat recovery.

Reliability is one of fuel cells’ strongest selling points, besides low-to-zero emissions, so a lot of facilities that need quality power all the time are some of the best customers. Several hospitals already have fuel cells installed around the country and now UTC will be providing St. Helena Hospital in California’s Napa Valley with PureCell® Model 400 system next summer. The fuel cell will provide 400-kW of power to the 181-bed full-service community hospital with the waste heat being used to supply hot water and space heating for three of the hospital’s buildings. The fuel cell was partially funded by a grant from the California Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), run by the California Public Utilities Commission. SGIP provides rebates for purchases of advance power technologies and fuel cells qualify under both renewable and nonrenewable categories. The incentives ($4.50/Watt for renewable fuel cells, $2.50/Watt for non-renewable fuel cells) only apply to the first 3 MW of system output (5 MW maximum).

These installations will hopefully help raise the profile of fuel cell technology while reducing carbon emissions and increasing reliability at each location. To see what’s going on in your state, Fuel Cells 2000’s State Fuel Cell and Hydrogen database catalogues all state policy, incentives, grant programs and rebates.

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