Oregon clean energy start-up ClearEdge Power is making waves with the signing of the biggest fuel cell deal to date, which has them producing 50MW of fuel cells for Austrian utility company Güssing Renewable Energy. ClearEdge, which was established in 2003, has emerged as one of the leaders in the clean tech industry, designing and manufacturing scalable fuel cell systems that provide cost-effective heat and power for buildings.
While their fuel cells run on natural gas, which is not a renewable resource, the environmental benefits and energy savings may make them an indispensable part of an integrated alternative energy solution. Since they use an electrochemical process rather than combustion to generate energy, ClearEdge Power’s fuel cells produce 41% less carbon emissions than are produced by the energy that’s going on the grid today.
Combine that with the ability to cut utility bills by up to 50%, and it’s clear why the technology is popular among businesses, homeowners, and environmentalists alike.
The Future of Clean Energy
Part of what makes ClearEdge Power’s clean energy systems so appealing from the perspective of solving the energy crisis is that they operate continuously, unlike solar and wind. ClearEdge claims that their fuel cells produce 11 times more energy than a solar array of equivalent peak capacity, meeting demand when solar is least productive and energy costs are highest.
The ability to provide power day and night, rain or shine, may find use by utilities to provide a cleaner base energy supply than can be generated by the coal and natural gas combustion power plants that provide so much of the grid’s power today. The combination of tightening environmental regulations, increased use of renewable energy and rising energy prices seems to be setting the stage for widespread adoption of fuel cell technology.
Greener Homes and Businesses on the Horizon
While most fuel cell solutions have been scaled for businesses, ClearEdge Power is the first to offer homeowners a financially viable alternative to solar. Of course, with units starting at a minimum of 5kW of capacity, only homes with significant heat and power bills make sense at the moment. If ClearEdge can scale that down, residential fuel cell systems may soon be ubiquitous. For now, large homes, and especially those in high energy cost areas like California and the northeast states, are the prime target market for ClearEdge.