World's Largest Biogas Fuel Cell Power Plant

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted October 22, 2012

In Ontario, California, the world’s largest power plant run on locally-generated biogas has been switched on.

The plant powers a water recycling facility owned by Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA), a water utility serving over 850,000 customers throughout California’s San Bernardino County.

And it runs on fuel cells. The fuel cells use waste biogas, generated on-site from the breakdown of wastewater biosolids, to create electricity and heat.

Because the cells use biogas, and because of the electrochemical process that cuts out combustion, emissions are reduced by 70 to 90 percent.

The cells are provided by FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ: FCEL), competitor to popular Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy. FuelCell’s products are also used in three other power plants in San Diego, but this project is by far the largest.

From Sustainable Business:

“This 2.8 megawatt fuel cell power plant is the world’s largest power plant operating on renewable on-site biogas. Our fuel cell technology provides what other megawatt-class power generation products can’t, which is efficiently converting biogas into continuous power right where the biogas is generated and in a manner that is virtually absent of pollutants,” says Chip Bottone, FuelCell Energy CEO. “This project is a win for everyone involved, particularly the citizens of California that benefit from privately financed carbon-neutral power generation.”

The system can function 24/7 to provide constant power to the plant that will, under a 20-year power purchase agreement, keep rates fixed. The significantly reduced emissions also offers added health benefits to customers and locals.

IEUA will purchase the power from Anaergia Inc., the Canadian company that owns the plant.

Anaergia is also currently involved in a food-waste-to-energy plant in the United Kingdom, set to convert over 30,000 tons of waste a year.


“Installation of this fuel cell operating on renewable biogas is an important component of our renewable energy generation strategy,” said Terry Catlin, Board President, Inland Empire Utilities Agency. “The clean electrical generation process and the reliable 24/7 operating nature of the fuel cell will help us attain the objectives of our strategic energy plan and position us to meet ever more stringent clean air emissions requirements.”

IEUA has set a goal of being off the grid by 2020. This new fuel cell plant will offset 60% of the power it receives from the grid, and it also has solar and wind sources in place to further that grid reduction. This project has put it one step closer to achieving this highly possible goal.

The fuel cell industry is set to grow 61% this year from its record-breaking success in 2011.

That’s all for now,

Brianna Panzica

follow basic@brianna_panzica on Twitter

Energy & Capital’s modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends.

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