2.8 MW Fuel Cell Using Biogas Now Operating; Largest PPA of its Kind in North America

12 Oct 2012

Water Treatment

A 2.8 MW fuel cell system powered by renewable biogas has come on line in California, marking the start of the largest power purchase agreement using such a system in North America. The molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) was supplied by FuelCell Energy.

The fuel cell system has now been fully commissioned and is in operation at the RP-1 Water Recycling Facility (RP-1) in Ontario, California. Anaergia Inc. (which specialises in the generation of renewable energy from organic waste) built, financed and now owns and operates the system. It does so under a twenty-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA).

The RP-1 Water Recycling Facility, which can treat up to 44 million gallons a day of wastewater, purchases base load power from Anaergia to offset approximately 60% of the grid power previously used by the facility to treat wastewater. This provides a reliable power source at predefined and competitively priced rates.

The benefits of using such a system, combining the efficiency fuel cell technology with renewable biogas, are numerous:

  • Long-term cost savings for the water treatment facility;
  • The facility also gains a degree of self-sufficiency and independence from the grid;
  • The carbon dioxide emissions generated by the fuel cell system can be considered ‘carbon neutral’ as the carbon is from a renewable source (waste) rather than fossil fuel;
  • Cleaner air for the residents of Ontario, California and California's South Coast Air Quality Management District through the use of one of the most environmentally sustainable options available.

The biogas created through the anaerobic digestion of wastewater biosolids is cleaned and conditioned prior to sending it to the fuel cell system. The fuel cell system then converts the biogas into renewable electricity through an electrochemical process similar to the process used in batteries. This system eliminates the need to combust biogas, which reduces NOx, SOx and particulate matter emissions by 70% to 90% compared to typical internal combustion engine systems.

"IEUA is proud to expand its already successful renewable energy program with the addition of a biogas powered fuel cell system," said Terry Catlin, President of the IEUA Board. "The fuel cell allows IEUA to move closer to its strategic energy plan goal to go ‘Gridless by 2020’ with almost no capital outlay by the Agency. Our plan is to minimize IEUA's dependency on energy purchased from the grid, and to be able to operate completely off the grid during peak energy usage periods."

"The RP-1 Fuel Cell Project with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency is a world-class example of how energy self-sufficiency can be achieved by generating renewable and cost effective electricity onsite under a power purchase agreement," said Steve Watzeck, CEO of Anaergia Inc. "This project will have a lasting and positive impact on the area by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California's South Coast Air Quality Management District and providing long-term electricity cost savings to the district. Anaergia is pleased to be a part of Inland Empire Utilities Authority's renewable energy portfolio and contribute to their goal of energy self-sufficiency by 2020."

See original press release on PRNewswire here.

SOURCE: Anaergia Inc.


Photo of water treatment facility: SM Brown / Wikipedia


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