Ultra-low emissions fuel cell power plant to feed power to consumers in Westerville, Ohio
Peoria, IL— Caterpillar Inc., FuelCell Energy, Inc. and the city of Westerville, Ohio have reached an important milestone, bringing on-line one of the first utility-scale fuel cell power plants in North America that will feed power to consumers from a substation.
“As a leader in distributed power generation, we see a growing need for all of Caterpillar’s broad range of power generation products,” said Rick Rathe, marketing manager for Caterpillar’s Power Systems Marketing Division. “This project represents an important step in the use of stationary fuel cells to provide power to local electrical distribution systems.”
“This project demonstrates how public-private partnerships can work to bring new and emerging technologies to consumers today,” said Herbert T. Nock, FuelCell Energy’s senior vice president of marketing and sales.” “The state of Ohio and the city of Westerville are showing how Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plants which create hydrogen internally, can be used to bring clean, reliable power to the people of Ohio without waiting for the development of a hydrogen supply infrastructure.”
This project is a first for the state of Ohio and was funded in part through Governor Bob Taft’s Third Frontier Fuel Cell Initiative, a $103 million dollar program that aims to position Ohio as a national leader in the growing fuel cell industry.
“Ohio has been on the leading edge of fuel cell technology for several years, and with today’s installation in Westerville, the Buckeye State has jumped ahead and established its leadership as an industry pioneer,” said Bob Taft, governor of Ohio. “Today signifies that our Third Frontier investments in the fuel cell industry are succeeding and directly benefiting Ohio citizens. I am pleased to take part in this historic event.
“The 250-kilowatt (kW) DFC power plant creates the hydrogen it needs from a readily available fuel, natural gas. The unit is manufactured by FuelCell Energy and distributed by Caterpillar through its dealer Ohio Cat. The fuel cell power plant is located at Westerville’s electric substation #2, and when fully operational it will produce enough energy to power approximately 180 homes in Westerville.
“Westerville’s fuel cell produces predominantly water and heat as by-products, while dramatically minimizing regulated emissions,” said Andrew Boatright, Westerville’s electric utility manager. “This first of its kind project in Ohio demonstrates that fuel cell technology holds the potential to transform the energy industry.”
Westerville is one of 91 municipal electric communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan that comprise AMP-Ohio, a wholesale power supplier and services supplier for municipalities. AMP-Ohio helped the city of Westerville secure the state grant that made the project possible, while also providing technical support for the installation.
Fuel cells are similar to large, continuously running batteries, using natural gas or other fuel to generate electricity through electrochemical reactions. Direct FuelCells efficiently generate electricity at distributed customer locations, including hospitals, schools, universities, hotels and other commercial and industrial facilities, as well as grid-support applications for utility customers. Direct FuelCells convert readily available fuels, such as natural gas or waste gas, to electrical power with great efficiency.
In April 2002, Caterpillar and FuelCell Energy signed an alliance agreement to distribute and develop ultra-low emission fuel cell power generation products for industrial and commercial use. The agreement calls for the companies to jointly develop Caterpillar-branded power plants in the 250kW to 3MW size range, incorporating FuelCell Energy’s fuel cell module.