Environmental Engineering Reference
STATIONARY POWER POTENTIAL
Stationary power is the most mature application for fuel cells.
Stationary fuel cell units are used for backup power, power for remote
locations, stand-alone power plants for towns and cities, distributed gen-
eration for buildings, and cogeneration where excess thermal energy from
electricity generation is used for heat.
Close to a thousand systems that produce over 10 kilowatts each
have been installed worldwide. Most of these are fueled by natural gas.
Phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs) have typically been used for large-scale
applications, but molten carbonate and solid oxide units also compete with
Thousands of smaller stationary fuel cells of less than 10 kilowatts
each have been built and operated to power homes and provide backup
power. Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells fueled with natural
gas or hydrogen are the primary units for these smaller systems.
A typical system that is commercially available in the United States is
the 200 kilowatt (kW) PAFC unit produced by UTC Fuel Cells. This is the
type of unit used to provide electricity and heat to the U.S. Postal Service's
Anchorage Mail Handling Facility. In 2000, the Chugach Electric Association
installed a 1 Megawatt (MW) fuel cell system at the U.S. Postal Service's
Anchorage Mail Handling Facility. The system consists of five natural gas
powered 200-kW PC25 fuel cells developed by UTC Fuel Cells.
The fuel cell station provides primary power for the facility as well as
half of the hot water needed for heating. Excess electricity from the system
flows back to the grid for use by other customers.
The fuel cell system emits much less carbon into the air than a combus-
tion-based power plant. Less than one percent of the amount is produced
from generating the same amount of power. The system is more expensive,
costing several times as much per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity pro-
duced than energy from a new natural gas fired turbine system.
The Town of South Windsor, CT, initiated a stationary fuel cell project
in 2002. South Windsor used funding from the Connecticut Clean Energy
Fund to install a natural gas powered 200-kW PC25 fuel cell system, from
UTC Fuel Cells, at the South Windsor High School. The system provides
heat and electricity to the high school along with learning opportunities for
the students. The school has an extensive fuel cell curriculum for students
and computer monitors allow students to track the operation of the fuel cell.
South Windsor High School has also been designated as a regional emer-