ClearEdge Power fuel cell technology increases energy efficiency
Stone Edge organic farm and winery will utilize ClearEdge Power's ClearEdge5 system to advance its energy-efficiency and sustainability goals. The ClearEdge5 system reduces the energy required to run the farm's irrigation system and lights. Today, fuel cell technologies and products are commercially viable, offering a compelling levelized cost of energy compared to existing grid infrastructure and a greener solution to help reduce carbon footprints.
While fuel cell technologies have existed for nearly 200 years, it has only been over the last two decades that utilities have been researching and demonstrating their capabilities as an alternative energy source. Fuel cells have struggled to penetrate the utility market because they have not been cost effective. To compound the problem, they have not been able to meet the high reliability standards required by utility companies.
"There is currently significant political and societal pressure for utilities to re-evaluate the way they create and distribute energy," Ed Graham, Director of Global Strategic Sales, ClearEdge Power, said in an interview with FierceEnergy. "By adding new alternative choices to a short list of viable distributed energy resources, utilities and their customers can better meet political and environmental regulations that have been put in place to drive reform."
Through creative financing programs, utilities can now offer their existing customer base alternative energy choices that can lower energy losses traditionally incurred during transmission, reduce energy production costs and minimize carbon emissions. These alternate energy choices also help utilities meet increased customer demand to proactively manage their own energy needs in more of a partnership.
"In today's Digital Age, customers are demanding a more collaborative approach with their service providers. This distributed generation, enabled by new technologies such as fuel cells, helps utilities retain and enhance their relationships with their client base," Graham said. "By leveraging stationary fuel cells utility customers can reduce their traditional energy needs by upwards of 40 percent, which reduces strain on the electric grid. The system efficiently converts natural gas to electricity and heat without burning it, which greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions."
In the future, the technology will continue to get less expensive, become more reliable and scale both up and down to provide more flexible deployment options for utilities to offer their customers.