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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions > Fuels & Renewable Energy

MicroCHP (combined heat and power) Fuel Cells for Homes and Businesses

Turn natural gas into electricity and heat for commercial and large home applications - and save significantly on utility costs with non-burning, CHP fuel cell energy generation.

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Innovative fuel cell products enable customers to significantly reduce their electricity bills, improve the energy efficiency of their home or business, and reduce their carbon emissions profile.

Small Scale Fuel Cell Technology

MicroCHP (combined heat and power) fuel cells convert natural gas into ultra-clean hydrogen through a catalytic process, as opposed to burning the natural gas, which dramatically reduces pollutants.

The hydrogen is processed through a Fuel Cell Stack, creating direct current (DC) power and heat. The Power Conditioning Unit converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which then ties directly to the main electrical panel, providing steady continuous power for home or business electricity needs.

The heat produced by the fuel cell is moved to the building through a heat exchanger supplying a continuous source of heating for hot water or space heating.

ClearEdge Power, a leading manufacturer of MicroCHP (combined heat and power) fuel cells for homes and businesses manufactures ClearEdge5, a combined heat and power (CHP) energy system based on fuel cell technology.

CHP energy system technology has demonstrated superior efficiency for years in industrial plants, universities, hotels and hospitals. And ClearEdge Power has scaled CHP for use on a small commercial and residential scale. Their product, ClearEdge5 is a compact system which efficiently converts natural gas or propane into both electricity and heat...without burning the natural gas.

ClearEdge5 fuel cell technology is packaged in a box... natural gas in, electricity and heat out.

CleanEdge Power units use fuel cell technology to deliver two energy resources from one efficient source. Electricity and heat. From natural gas.

Because the ClearEdge5 generates electricity and heat on site very efficiently, the flameless conversion of hydrocarbon fuels into energy is substantially cleaner than comparable grid-connected systems.

  • The ClearEdge5 provides a significant net reduction in CO2 – about one-third lighter footprint for the energy produced.
  • The system also significantly reduces other harmful emissions produced by conventional power generation sources.
  • The lower carbon footprint supports the goals of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) and other state initiatives to reduce climate change impacts.

The intent of the ClearEdge5 is to provide your base and load power, supplementing energy use from a major power grid, not to replace it completely.

With operations up and down the West Coast of the United States, ClearEdge Power is creating green jobs and promoting the growth of clean energy.

The ClearEdge5 is designed and built to fit in either an interior mechanical room or outside a home or facility – running quietly in the background 24/7. Connected to the utility grid, using standard fittings and tools, the ClearEdge5 easily integrates with existing electrical systems and is compliant with utility interconnection requirements. In the event of grid interruption. the system automatically switches to operate in a grid-independent mode to provide backup power to essential circuits while the grid is down. The ClearEdge5 is a “smart” web-connected system, with centralized command and control capabilities, enabling 24/7 monitoring and multiple unit operation at a site.

An on-site unit that sits outside your building to light your lights, power appliances, and heat your pool. It can provide power for the whole home , business, hotel, restaurant or school.

This CHP unit's compact size can fit almost anywhere and provide productive, efficient, reliable heat and energy 24/7.

Claims for "Homeowners" made by ClearEdge include:

  • Reduce your utility bills by up to 50%
  • Cut carbon emissions by 1/3
  • More productive than solar by 11x.
Claims for "Business" estimate reducing utility bills by up to 30%

ClearEdge Power’s management systems have been certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. ClearEdge Power is also a member of the United States Green Building Council and of the United States Fuel Cell Council.

Fuel Cell Costs

The list price for the ClearEdge5 is comparable to residential solar PV systems on a dollar per watt-installed basis.

A major advantage over solar, the ClearEdge claims that the ClearEdge5 generates ten times more energy than the same size solar installation.

The ClearEdge website makes the following energy case: "For the same capital investment, the ClearEdge5 gives you 90 MWh of annual combined electricity and heat, compared to approximately 8MWh generated by a 5kW solar system. Operating costs for the ClearEdge5 are as low as 6.0¢ per kWh based on $1.20 per therm for natural gas, assuming full electrical and heat utilization. The purchase price of the ClearEdge5 also includes a five-year EnergyPlus™ Service Agreement covering all installation, parts and maintenance."

Fuel Cell Applications

The ClearEdge5 is scaled for most small businesses and large homes and small commercial operations where the energy load significantly exceeds the baseline utility allowance.

Larger homes: The ClearEdge5 generates around 43MWh annually – optimal for larger homes (4,000 sq. ft. or more), especially if pools, spas and radiant floor heating are in the plans. It’s also a convenient source of back-up power for critical loads, such as light, refrigerator/freezers, electronics/computers and heating systems.

Operating with much higher efficiency than grid electricity and conventional heating, the ClearEdge5 consumes about 40% less fuel than the status quo. This enables you to generate your own electricity at about 6 cents per kWh, compared to utility rates that are as high as 45 cents.

A benefit for temperature critical features such as large refrigeration units or critical healthcare equipment, ClearEdge5 provides a backup if the grid goes down.

By using the waste heat to avoid burning fuel for heating, the CO2 emissions from your energy use are as much as 40% less.

Fuel Cell Incentives

The Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is available to anyone who is receiving either electricity or gas from any investor owned utility, including:

  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Southern California Edison
  • Southern California Gas (“The Gas Company”)
  • San Diego Gas & Electric
To learn more about the SGIP program, contact your utility provider, or check out the California Public Utilities Commission’s informational website here.

The ClearEdge5 currently qualifies for significant clean energy rebates and tax incentives.

The rebate program provides $2.50/watt for fuel cell equipment. For the ClearEdge5 that translates into a $12,500 check for each unit installed at a qualified site!

A federal fuel cell tax credit, an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), adds additional savings.

Businesses can can qualify for rebates and tax incentivessuch as the ITC which will credit 30% of the cost of the unit, up to $3,000 per kW.

Investment Tax Credit details are available from your tax consultant.

Also for businesses, the purchase of a ClearEdge5 energy system qualifies for accelerated depreciation deductions. Speak with your tax consultant for details.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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