Fuel cell will power Japanese eco-community

Posted: 4 May 2005

An advanced renewable energy system will help provide power for a hospital, a school, apartment buildings and a City Hall for an ecological community on the west coast of Japan it was announced this week.

The US company, FuelCell Energy Inc., says that one of its 250-kilowatt Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants, sold by its Asian distributor Marubeni Corporation, will convert waste from a food processing plant into high quality electricity. Heat energy produced by the plant will also be used to warm water flowing into the food waste digestion process, thus increasing its efficiency.

Kyotango City's DFC power plant is part of an 850-kilowatt mini-grid consisting of the fuel cell unit, a wind turbine, photovoltaics and gas engines connected in parallel to the local electrical grid. Acknowledging the environmental advantages of the project, Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is supporting the capital and installation cost.

"The Eco-Energy Project is ideal for a DFC power generation plant," said Marc G. Aube, Marubeni Vice President. "Its ultra-clean, highly efficient generation process provides a breakthrough means to enable Japan's earth-minded municipalities and industry to deploy and stabilize the renewable energy solutions that help parties comply with the Kyoto Protocol."

"There is a great deal of excitement in Japan over the use of fuel cells to generate power on a community-wide scale," said Herbert T. Nock, FuelCell Energy's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. "In Japan and other Asian and European nations that are attempting to reduce emissions in accordance with the requirements of the Kyoto Protocols, this energy site represents an important double-win for us. It replicates our success in providing power in renewable waste treatment facilities and it goes further in demonstrating the feasibility of tying DFC technology into the grid, as we have previously accomplished in industrial settings."

No combustion

Direct FuelCells generate electricity without combustion. As long as fuel is supplied, they operate continuously to produce power through highly efficient electrochemical reactions. Since fuel is not burned, none of the pollution commonly associated with burning fossil fuels occurs.

Shipment of the DFC unit is expected to take place later this year (2005).

The Eco-Energy project was launched in 2003 in Japan's Kyoto Prefecture to demonstrate how renewable energy systems can be employed to provide stable power supplies in community settings. It combines the intermittent power from solar and wind sources with biomass energy and fuel cells, which produce electricity on a controllable yet ultra-clean basis.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement under which over 140 industrialised countries are committed to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. FuelCell Energy believes its DFC power plants, which emit 99.9 per cent less harmful pollution and particulates than the average fossil fuel power plant, represents an important "ultra-clean" option for energy projects complying with the Kyoto Protocol.

Source: Business Wire