Summary:

Fuel cell maker ClearEdge Power has scored the mother of all utility deals: a 50 MW, $500 million deal with Austrian utility Güssing Renewable Energy.

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Fuel cell maker ClearEdge Power has scored the mother of all utility deals: a 50 MW, $500 million deal with Austrian utility Güssing Renewable Energy. ClearEdge Power VP of Marketing Mike Upp tells me in an interview that Güssing will run the entire distributed network of fuel cells off of biogas, produced from the area’s forest and agricultural bi-products.

To put this in perspective, utilities don’t commonly contract for massive amounts of distributed fuel cells. Some of the other sizable ones I’ve heard of are those Bloom Energy is working with Delaware utility Delmarva Power & Light on for a 30 MW system, and FuelCell Energy has what it says is the largest constructed fuel cell park in the world with a 11.2 MW project with Korean power producer Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

While these types of deals are rare today, these fuel cell farms are getting built in areas where grid power is expensive and where there are incentives in places for fuel cells and low-carbon power. Upp tells me the cost of power in Southern Austria, Güssing’s footprint, is close to 1 Euro per kilowatt hour. ClearEdge Power’s fuel cells, on the other hand, can produce power for 9 cents per kilowatt hour for the levelized cost of energy. Güssing also has a goal to have the towns in its footprint use entirely clean power.

ClearEdge Power will provide fuel cells for both residential and commercial Güssing customers, and Upp says one reason the company won the deal is because it can provide fuel cells of a small enough size for residential customers. “They were looking for a distributed solution that is at a smaller and scalable size. A building block approach,” said Upp.

ClearEdge Power will deliver the first 8.5 MW over the next 36 months. Güssing, along with California utility Sempra Energy, are investors in ClearEdge Power.

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