College Commissions First of Ten Fuel Cell Systems

October 12, 2011

DOE reported on October 3 the commissioning of a combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell system at Portland Community College in Oregon. Two five-kilowatt CHP fuel cell systems will help Portland Community College save on its energy bills and achieve its energy efficiency and sustainability goals. And, students will learn about the fuel cell technology used in the project as part of a comprehensive alternative energy curriculum offered by the school.

The project is the first of ten CHP fuel cell systems that will go into operation on the West Coast as part of a $2.8 million combined industry and government award that includes $1.4 million of DOE funding. In addition to providing electricity, the CHP fuel cell system captures the excess heat generated inside the fuel cell and releases it into the facility to provide space heating. The excess heat can also be used for hot water or other heating needs, while excess electricity produced but not consumed by the building can be sold back to a local utility company. DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) awarded $1.4 million to Oregon-based ClearEdge Power to install 38 CHP fuel cell systems. PNNL will analyze the engineering, economic, and environmental performance of the two systems during the next five years. PNNL anticipates that this type of a system could reduce the fuel costs and carbon footprint of a commercial building by approximately 40%, compared with conventional electricity use. See the DOE press release.