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Trinity College to Install Fuel Cell Power Plant, Save 30% in Energy, Prep for Future Micro-grid

Trinity College in Hartford, CT, is the latest institute of higher learning to ensure a steady and reliable source of power while saving on energy costs and reducing CO2. The college expects to save about 30% in energy costs per year with the installation of a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant from FuelCell Energy.

The combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell plant will be located on campus and will generate a continuous supply of on-site electricity and steam. With grid-independent operating capabilities, the fuel cell plant supports future implementation of a micro-grid for the campus, as well, the school says. Trinity College is working with FuelCell Energy, which will install the power plant and provide long term operation and maintenance. Trinity College will pay for power as it is produced, avoiding a capital investment in power generation.

In addition to the reduced annual energy costs and a predictable and steady source of power, the college will achieve 39% reduction in CO2 (to the tune of 4,100 tons per year as compared to the national grid) and decrease fuel consumption by 35%. FuelCell Energy says the power plant will allow the college to achieve “overall system efficiency upwards of 70%.”

Universities in particular value on-site power generation to help ensure reliable and resilient power and clean power to support their sustainability goals. “If they can accomplish all of this while reducing their energy costs, then it is compelling to them,” a FuelCell Energy spokesperson told Energy Manager Today. “Fuel cell power plants are well-suited for schools as they are clean and quiet and don’t need much land so they are easy to site on a college campus. Additionally, the fuel cells help the schools reduce their energy costs in a number of ways. The fuel cells are very efficient, which is passed onto the school. As they are located on-campus, no transmission is needed, which is an added cost to grid-delivered power. When configured for combined heat and power, the university can then lessen use of combustion-based boilers for heating which reduces their overall fuel usage.”

Some examples of other universities with fuel cell power plants include University of California, San Diego, Central Connecticut State University, California State University San Bernardino, and San Francisco State University.

Earlier this month, the Navy’s submarine base in Groton, CT, announced that long-term power will be supplied by two fuel cell power plants, also from FuelCell Energy. The energy company is working with the submarine base via a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Cooperative, which in turn will work with Groton Utilities to implement the power supply.

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