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FuelCell Energy announces commercial start-up of wastewater power project

FuelCell Energy announces commercial start-up and funding of City of Riverside, California wastewater treatment plant power project. A complete turn-key solution whereby FuelCell Energy installs, operates and maintains the biogas fuelled fuel cell power plant under a power purchase agreement with the city.

FuelCell Energy power plant (foreground) and anaerobic digester (background) at Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant, Riverside, California (photo courtesy FuelCell Energy).

FuelCell Energy power plant (foreground) and anaerobic digester (background) at Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant, Riverside, California (photo courtesy FuelCell Energy).

FuelCell Energy, Inc., a US-headed developer, manufacturer, operator and service provider of fuel cell power plants, has announced the completion of construction and commercial operation of a megawatt-class fuel cell power plant at the Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant in Riverside, California. The City of Riverside pays for power produced achieving immediate operating cost savings without any capital outlay and in a manner that supports the City’s sustainability goals.

Through the use of anaerobic digesters, the Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant captures the methane, which FuelCell Energy then cleans and uses it as the fuel source to generate carbon-neutral power for the wastewater treatment process as well as heat needed by the anaerobic digesters.

– In renewable biogas applications, such as this project, the biogas must be cleaned before being directed into the fuel cells, which is a separate system that requires maintenance and financing and previously, our customers needed to obtain separately from the fuel cell power plant. We leveraged our decades of wastewater industry experience and comprehensive engineering and design capabilities to manufacture our own gas clean-up system to not only ensure the quality of the clean-up, but to take responsibility for the entire solution for our customer and offer a complete and affordable power generation solution, said Tony Rauseo, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc in a statement.

The Riverside wastewater treatment facility can process approximately 40 million gallons (≈ 151 million litres) of wastewater per day with around-the-clock operations. The continuous power profile of the fuel cells supports the treatment process, utilising approximately two thirds of the biogas generated to provide about one third of the power needs for the facility.

Pay-as-you-go

Concurrent with the achievement of commercial operations, FuelCell Energy’s direct subsidiary closed on financing with PNC Energy Capital through a sale lease-back transaction. The Riverside fuel cell project is the second fuel cell project to be financed under the financing facility with PNC. The power purchase agreement structure that is supported by this financing enabled the City of Riverside to avoid an upfront investment in the power generation equipment and, instead, purchase power as it is produced by the project.

– FuelCell Energy developed this project and it retains ultimate ownership of the power purchase agreement, generating monthly revenue from the sale of power to the City of Riverside. This pay-as-you-go approach is valued by the marketplace and our access to capital such as the PNC Energy Capital facility enables us to meet the needs of our customers, said Michael Bishop, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, FuelCell Energy Inc.

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