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Fuel Cells Get a Bad Rap for Using Natural Gas

Linda Hardesty

Fuel Cell Energy ManageClearEdge Power says there is a tendency to discount fuel cell-based energy as less green than other clean energy methods because fuel cells use natural gas. ClearEdge has penned a white paper to explain the benefits of fuel cell combined heat and power (CHP) as it applies to commercial building applications.

ClearEdge says fuel cells are the cleanest, most efficient way of using natural gas to produce energy with system efficiencies of up to 90 percent.

The white paper “The Green Edge of Fuel Cells,” cites the case study of  the University of Connecticut at Storrs, which is partnering its existing 400-kW ClearEdge PureCell system with a demonstration-scale 6.6 kW photovoltaic solar panel array to create an independent microgrid that will provide power to a cluster of campus buildings during prolonged grid outages. Currently, the fuel cell system delivers baseload power, as well as heating and cooling, to research labs and offices.

In another example, at nine Verizon sites in California, New Jersey and New York, 19 PureCell fuel cells, Model 400, are generating over 60 million kWh of electricity per year as part of a massive fuel cell and solar energy project in 20 states that will enable Verizon to eventually generate more than 70 million kWh of its own energy.

ClearEdge says its PureCell systems can be located virtually anywhere, often making use of existing real estate that would otherwise be unusable, such as rooftops and subfloors.



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