In the Middle: MHS gets 200-kW fuel cell

While Wes students were pushing for President Roth to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment, Middletown was one-upping us by pushing for a radical solution to rising energy consumption: the installation of a 200-kilowatt fuel cell at Middletown High School. The Hartford Courant reports:

By next fall, Middletown High School will be powered by fuel cell technology thanks to an $800,000 state grant to cover the costs of installation.

The fuel cell will generate electricity, heat the swimming pool and ultimately save taxpayers money, according to school and state officials. Gov. M. Jodi Rell said about $800,000 in state funds will go toward the project.

“Middletown, in 2005, was one of the first municipalities in Connecticut to commit to a clean energy campaign,” Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. “We are pleased to help Middletown move forward with this installation project.

The Middletown Press reports that the town is getting the electricity savings on the cheap, as well:

The project will cost a total of $1.6 million. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund contributed $940,000. Additional grants of $1.7 million bring the city’s cost for the project to about $14,096, Jackson said.

The 20% of MHS’s energy that will be provided by the fuel cell will save the city money and reduce its dependence on the pollution-generating power grid at the same time.

Clearly, saving money and saving the environment can go hand in hand. And with concern over carbon emissions and global climate change mounting at the same time as Wesleyan’s efforts to reduce the financial burden for students, might not it make sense to look at implementing infrastructural changes at Wesleyan, to both save money and save the environment?

So what can Wesleyan do to achieve those ends? What are your ideas?

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

4 thoughts on “In the Middle: MHS gets 200-kW fuel cell

  1. direland

    Say what? The city is fronting only 14 grand – which is less than 1% of the total cost (dubious accounting aside: “The project will cost a total of $1.6 million. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund contributed $940,000. Additional grants of $1.7 million bring the city’s cost for the project to about $14,096…” Yeah, that adds up). Sure, sounds like a steal for the high school. As for the environmental gains… well, I’m not so sure. The unit I believe they’re referring to is UTC’s PureCell 200… to the best of my knowledge, mankind has yet to find a source of pure hydrogen, which means that it’ll still be burning fossil fuels (most likely natural gas) – I doubt they’ll be using anaerobic digester gas, unless part of this multi-million dollar project is to build a waste treatment plant for the high school, too. Speaking of UTC (United Technologies Corporation), did you know they’re a leading military contractor? Yeah, $5 billion in business in ’05 alone. Damn, but Blackhawks are sweet. I mean, it’s probably hard for the 20th largest U.S. manufacturer to keep out of the military-industrial complex. None of this bothers me personally – in fact, I think I’m a fan – but I’m guessing this will lead to a lot of angst amongst those who want to divest from the war and fight the war on global warming. Poor Roth – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But back to efficiency. Of course on-site power generation is better than getting it off the grid – you avoid the 5-10% distribution loss from Joule heating. But is the PureCell really more than twice as efficient? Sure, as long as you use the waste heat to do something else environmentally friendly, like… heat the pool? Assuming you just want it for the juice, though… eh, it’s more like 55% efficient. Which is actually pretty damn good. But is it $1.6 million good? Maybe CT would be better off… I don’t know, putting that towards a combined cycle natural gas power plant, like GE’s H system.* They don’t really come in a 200kw model, of course. These are some big mothers. But they can achieve 60% efficiency, and at a price tag of $500 million for the 510MW Baglan Bay power plant, they’re significantly cheaper; $980 per kW, as opposed to $8,000. CT has about 240 high schools – at $1.6 mil a pop, you’d have almost 80% of the money you needed right there. And you’d be producing way more than their 20%, baseline energy consumption.*Yeah yeah, GE pretty much is the military industrial complex. I’m not the one who’s uncomfortable in a world where companies do both good and bad – you are. Cry about it.

  2. direland

    Say what? The city is fronting only 14 grand – which is less than 1% of the total cost (dubious accounting aside: “The project will cost a total of $1.6 million. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund contributed $940,000. Additional grants of $1.7 million bring the city’s cost for the project to about $14,096…” Yeah, that adds up). Sure, sounds like a steal for the high school.

    As for the environmental gains… well, I’m not so sure. The unit I believe they’re referring to is UTC’s PureCell 200… to the best of my knowledge, mankind has yet to find a source of pure hydrogen, which means that it’ll still be burning fossil fuels (most likely natural gas) – I doubt they’ll be using anaerobic digester gas, unless part of this multi-million dollar project is to build a waste treatment plant for the high school, too.

    Speaking of UTC (United Technologies Corporation), did you know they’re a leading military contractor? Yeah, $5 billion in business in ’05 alone. Damn, but Blackhawks are sweet. I mean, it’s probably hard for the 20th largest U.S. manufacturer to keep out of the military-industrial complex. None of this bothers me personally – in fact, I think I’m a fan – but I’m guessing this will lead to a lot of angst amongst those who want to divest from the war and fight the war on global warming. Poor Roth – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    But back to efficiency. Of course on-site power generation is better than getting it off the grid – you avoid the 5-10% distribution loss from Joule heating. But is the PureCell really more than twice as efficient? Sure, as long as you use the waste heat to do something else environmentally friendly, like… heat the pool? Assuming you just want it for the juice, though… eh, it’s more like 55% efficient. Which is actually pretty damn good. But is it $1.6 million good? Maybe CT would be better off… I don’t know, putting that towards a combined cycle natural gas power plant, like GE’s H system.* They don’t really come in a 200kw model, of course. These are some big mothers. But they can achieve 60% efficiency, and at a price tag of $500 million for the 510MW Baglan Bay power plant, they’re significantly cheaper; $980 per kW, as opposed to $8,000.

    CT has about 240 high schools – at $1.6 mil a pop, you’d have almost 80% of the money you needed right there. And you’d be producing way more than their 20%, baseline energy consumption.

    *Yeah yeah, GE pretty much is the military industrial complex. I’m not the one who’s uncomfortable in a world where companies do both good and bad – you are. Cry about it.

Comments are closed.