Fuel Cell Power Plant at UCI Medical Center
Developer: FuelCell Energy, Inc.
Owner: PNC Energy Capital
Location: Orange, Calif.
The Renewable Energy Power Award for Overcoming Obstacles is presented to FuelCell Energy Inc. for its work on the fuel cell power plant at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medical Center. The financing structure between PNC Energy Capital and FuelCell Energy is the first of its kind, committing tax-credit equity financing for utility-scale fuel cell technology. Cypress Creek Renewables CEO Matthew McGovern and Renewable Energy Power Awards judge said that while the fuel cell power plant has its merits, it was a, “difficult-to-finance project” that required PNC’s assistance. The project provides both ultra-clean electricity and usable high-quality heat to the UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. In December 2015, the plant began producing about 30 percent of the facility’s power needs and 200 tons of cooling. By virtually eliminating pollutants associated with combustion-based power generation, the fuel cell power planet enhances UCI Medical Center’s sustainability profile.
Because financing a “division of a company” like the UCI Medical Center is, “always a challenging obstacle,” Anastasia Istratova of SunPower Corporation, a judge for the Renewable Energy Power Awards, acknowledged the “perseverance and dedication” that went into closing the financing deal for the fuel cell power plant. The financing structure allowed UCI Medical Center to avoid upfront capital investment by purchasing the power and heat under a multi-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Congratulations to FuelCell Energy Inc. for its commitment to clean power generation with the fuel cell power plant at UCI Medical Center. This project will help pave the way for successful future fuel cell projects to be financed.