16 April 2010 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authorized Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison Company to undertake projects to install utility-owned fuel cells on four University of California and California State University campuses.
Manufacturer of high efficiency power plants based on fuel cells, FuelCell Energy (FCE) will work with the utilities to finalize contracts, says the company. The approval is part of a programme to support clean distributed power generation in California.
The fuel cell power plants are expected to be configured to generate baseload electricity for the facilities, in addition to recovering the surplus heat by-product for heating needs. This configuration can achieve up to 80% efficiency.
PG&E’s Fuel Cell Project will include the installation and operation of two FCE 1.4 MW facilities at California State University-East Bay and San Francisco State.
The fuel cells plan to utilize the by-products of the energy conversion process, including waste heat and water to meet the campus needs including thermal demand for heating the swimming pool at CSU-East Bay and using excess water for landscape irrigation.
Southern California Edison’s Fuel Cell Project will include two FCE 1.4 MW units located at CSU-San Bernardino and CSU-Long Beach. The fuel cells will interconnect and operate in parallel with Edison’s distribution system and utilize the by-product heat.
In conjunction with the installation of the fuel cell power plants, the state universities are expected to incorporate fuel cell technology into their respective curriculums to teach students and the public about the benefits of fuel cell systems.