Release Date: October 26, 2000
|Federal Environmental Laboratory at Fort Meade
to be Powered by Revolutionary Fuel Cell Power Plant
Richardson, Browner Announce Government "Showcase" Project
WASHINGTON, DC - The most efficient onsite power plant in the world - a revolutionary fuel cell-gas turbine "hybrid" power system - is slated to power one of the federal government's principal environmental laboratories beginning in 2002, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol Browner announced this week.
The new power generator, to be built by the Siemens-Westinghouse Power Corporation, will be installed at EPA's Environmental Science Center at Fort Meade, Maryland.
"We plan to make this a showcase energy facility for power efficiency and environmental cleanliness," said Secretary Richardson. "The combination of a fuel cell and microturbine is one of the most exciting new advances coming out of our energy research program. The Fort Meade project will preview a future of 'good neighbor' power generators that can be sited at or near the customer."
The high-tech energy plant, combining an all-solid state fuel cell and a microturbine, will be the largest of its type in the world. Fueled by natural gas, it will generate 1,000 kilowatts of electricity at nearly double the efficiencies of conventional power plants and will have the lowest environmental impact of any power plant using fossil fuel.
This week, the Energy Department and EPA signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for the joint agency initiative. The fuel cell-turbine power system is scheduled to be installed and operating by mid-2002.
The joint DOE-EPA power plant is expected to open the door to an entirely new way to generate electricity more like a battery than a boiler. Since there is no combustion, there are virtually none of the traditional pollutants of a power plant.
For Siemens-Westinghouse Power Corporation, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fuel cell-turbine hybrid will culminate nearly four decades of research and development. The company sees the Fort Meade system as one of the final steps before it begins taking commercial orders as early as 2002 and delivering the first commercial systems in 2004.
Cinergy Corp., headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, will operate the power generator. The power company was created in 1994 from the combination of the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company and PSI Energy Inc., the largest electric utility in Indiana.
The fuel cell-turbine hybrid could be the forerunner of a new class of distributed power generation, where small power plants are sited near where the electricity is used. Interest in distributed generation is growing as the power industry develops new ways to supply affordable, highly reliable electricity in a competitive, deregulated marketplace. During the next decade, the U.S. distributed generation market is estimated to grow at 5,000 to 10,000 megawatts per year.
Combining a fuel cell and microturbine will boost the system's electrical generating efficiency to nearly 60 percent. Most power plants in the United States convert only 35 percent of the incoming fuel's energy to useful electricity. High efficiency means that the power system will generate much less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, than a conventional coal- or natural gas-fueled power plant.
The advanced power plant will generate about half the electric power needs of the EPA laboratory. The 140,000-square foot laboratory houses several of EPA's Region 3 offices and its national pesticide measurement facilities. Currently 160 chemists, scientists, engineers and support staff work at the site.
The Energy Department and EPA have currently committed a combined $14 million for the power system. Another $10 million will be provided by the private sector partners.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|