Fuel cells power CA schools

Following a 12-unit deal with the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD), Woodbridge and University High Schools in Irvine, Calif., will be the first high schools in the country to use ClearEdge Power combined heat and power stationary fuel cells. Each school will use six ClearEdge5 fuel cell units to power and heat their swimming pools, as well as to supplement the school’s standard power needs. These measures to improve energy efficiency and increase sustainability within the Irvine Unified School District will save each school almost $18,000 each year in operating expenses and will reduce each school’s CO2 emissions by 37 percent.

“The Irvine Unified School District has a strong commitment to sustainability in all areas of its operations, from standards-based curriculum and service-learning projects to conservation campaigns and new construction strategies that save energy and produce less waste,” said Dr. Gwen E. Gross, IUSD’s superintendent of schools. “We had initially considered a solar thermal solution for both Woodbridge and University High Schools; however, it would have required us to retrofit the roofs at both schools in order to accommodate the solar panels. ClearEdge Power was able to offer a more cost-effective solution, provide electricity in addition to heat, and still reduce our schools’ carbon footprint."

The ClearEdge Power five-kilowatt combined heat and power stationary fuel cell uses a chemical process to cleanly convert natural gas into electricity and heat around the clock, regardless of weather conditions. Unlike power sources that use combustion technology, fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical process that produces only negligible or undetectable levels of nitrogen and sulfur oxides. A significant percentage of heat produced by fuel cells can be captured and used to provide heat and hot water. The ClearEdge5 combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 35 to 40 percent compared to traditional combustion technology and other typical pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds, ash and particulates, to trace levels. The ClearEdge5 is roughly the size of a standard refrigerator, and incorporates a system for monitoring performance over a standard Internet connection. When installed in homes or businesses, it can also reduce utility bills by up to 50 percent by creating power at the point of use.

“We are pleased that a learning institution like the Irvine Unified School District is taking a leading role in reducing our impact on the environment and our demand on the electrical grid with our clean and highly efficient ClearEdge5 fuel cell appliances,” said ClearEdge Power President and CEO Russell Ford.