FuelCell Energy, Inc. has received a contract for two 2.8 megawatt DFC3000 fuel cell power plants from United Illuminating (UI), part of UIL Holdings Corporation. One direct fuel cell system will be located in Bridgeport, Connecticut as part of a distributed renewable power generation project that also includes a solar array. The second installation will be located within the UI service territory at a site to be named in the next 30 days.
UIL Holdings Corporation is a diversified energy delivery company serving more than 700,000 electric and natural gas utility customers in 66 communities across two states, with combined total assets of more than $4 billion. UIL is the parent company of The United Illuminating Company (UI); The Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG); Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation (CNG); and The Berkshire Gas Company (Berkshire), each more than 100 years old.
DFC power plants utilize carbonate fuel cell technology, which is well suited for megawatt-class applications due to its scalability and favorable cost profile. Another advantage is that carbonate cells operate efficiently without the need for noble metal catalysts, such as platinum, which are required by some other types of fuel cell technology.
These two fuel cell plants will provide continuous baseload power to the electric grid adequate to power approximately 5,600 homes. FuelCell Energy will install the power plants and operate and maintain them for 20 years under long term service agreements. The plants are expected to be operational in early 2015.
The Bridgeport installation will be part of a renewable energy park at Seaside landfill, with the power plant efficiently converting natural gas into continuous electricity that is virtually absent of pollutants. The site will also host an array of solar panels. The total project will occupy approximately 9 acres of land with the fuel cell power plant using about one quarter of an acre to produce 2.8 megawatts and approximately 1,000 solar panels occupying about 8 1/2 acres to generate approximately 5 megawatts.
FuelCell Energy was the successful fuel cell bidder in a competitive solicitation issued by UI in 2013 under its “Renewable Connections” program. The program was enabled by the Connecticut legislature under Public Act 11-80 in 2011, which granted each Connecticut electric utility authorization to directly own up to 10 megawatts of Class 1 renewable power generation, including stationary fuel cell power plants. The program was subsequently approved by PURA and a bill expanding the program by an additional 50 MW is currently under consideration in the State legislature.