FuelCell Energy commences operation and funding of a biogas-powered wastewater facility

FuelCell Energy, a power plant developer, has completed the construction and begun commercial operation of a megawatt-class fuel cell power plant in California.

The Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant is structured so that the City of Riverside pays for power produced, achieving immediate operating cost savings without any capital outlay and in a manner that supports the City’s sustainability goals.

The water treatment process at the Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant generates methane, a greenhouse gas.

Through the use of anaerobic digesters, the Water Quality Plant captures the methane, which FuelCell Energy then cleans and uses it as the fuel source to generate carbon-neutral power for the wastewater treatment process, as well as heat needed by the anaerobic digesters. 

“In renewable biogas applications, such as this project, the biogas must be cleaned before being directed into the fuel cells, which is a separate system that requires maintenance and financing. Previously, our customers needed to obtain these services separately from the fuel cell power plant,” said Tony Rauseo, Senior VP and COO at FuelCell Energy.

“We leveraged our engineering and design capabilities to manufacture our own gas clean-up system to not only ensure the quality of the clean-up, but to take responsibility for the entire solution for our customer and offer a complete and affordable power generation solution.”

The Riverside wastewater treatment facility can process approximately 40 million gallons of wastewater per day with around-the-clock operations.

The continuous power profile of the fuel cells supports the treatment process, utilising approximately two thirds of the biogas generated to provide about one third of the power needs for the facility.

Concurrent with the achievement of commercial operations, FuelCell Energy’s direct subsidiary closed on financing with PNC Energy Capital through a sale lease-back transaction.

The Riverside fuel cell project is the second to be financed under the financing facility with PNC.

The power purchase agreement structure enabled the City of Riverside to avoid an upfront investment in the power generation equipment and, instead, purchase power as it is produced by the project.

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