In the US FuelCell Energy and Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) have brought online a 2.8 MW fuel cell power plant to provide almost all of the baseload power for one of IEUA’s wastewater facilities. The facility uses the biogas generated by the facility as the input for the power plant.
The fuel cell power plant is owned by UTS Bioenergy/Anaergia, a project developer and investor. The electricity and heat is sold to IEUA under a long term power purchase agreement. Fuel cell projects attract private capital, particularly when the power purchaser has a strong credit profile, such as a municipality.
The fuel cell power generation process is ultra-clean as the plant utilizes an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity and heat. Due to the absence of combustion, virtually no pollutants are released. The process is highly efficient, maximizing power output from the renewable biogas, a carbon-neutral fuel source. The heat from the fuel cell plant is supplied to the anaerobic digester. The biogas produced by the digester is then cleaned and used to fuel the fuel cell power plant.
This CHP configuration reduces the need to generate heat from another source, minimizing fuel costs and emissions. Installation of the fuel cell plant assists IEUA with implementing its renewable energy program and removes a significant risk factor regarding compliance with any future changes to clean air regulations.
The customers and neighbors of IEUA benefit as private capital is used to provide public benefits including health benefits from the virtual lack of pollutants that cause smog and from the financial benefits of fixed power costs over the 20 year term of the power purchase agreement.
“Installation of this fuel cell operating on renewable biogas is an important component of our renewable energy generation strategy,” said Terry Catlin, Board President, Inland Empire Utilities Agency. “The clean electrical generation process and the reliable 24/7 operating nature of the fuel cell will help us attain the objectives of our strategic energy plan and position us to meet ever more stringent clean air emission requirements.”
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