AMANDA HAUSMANN ’21
A 1.4 megawatt fuel cell has been installed in the FuelCell energy unit adjacent to Ferris Athletic Center. The energy unit, owned and installed by Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, was completed last May and will operate under a 15-year contract with American Electric Power (AEP) OnSite Partners, according to a Hartford Business article from Aug. 30. This installation marks the completion of a 3-month long project, beginning on May 22, 2017 when Trinity signed an agreement with FuelCell Energy, which is a part of the College’s greater sustainability initiative.
The move toward fuel cells has been expanding throughout universities across the nation over the past decade, many of them citing fuel cells’ abilities to use fewer raw materials to generate greater energy output. Back in 2012, UConn’s Depot campus installed a 400 kilowatt fuel cell to “prevent the release of more than 831 metric tons of carbon dioxide and save nearly 3.9 million gallons of water annually,” according to UConn Today.
Trinity’s 1.4 megawatt fuel cell is 3.5 times larger than UConn’s 400 kilowatt fuel cell. In an earlier conversation with Hartford Business, the College stated that the fuel cell “will generate both electricity and steam heat, allowing Trinity to reduce its use of boilers and its carbon dioxide emissions by 4,100 tons annually compared to the national grid, and will also eliminate 8 tons of nitrogen oxide and 10 tons of sulfur dioxide.”
In a press release last May, FuelCell Energy President and CEO Chip Bottone stated, “we are pleased to be working with Trinity College in delivering an unobtrusive, quiet power generation solution right on campus that will advance sustainability goals while strengthening critical infrastructure and reducing operating costs for the College. Buttone added that “with grid-independent operating capabilities, the fuel cell plant supports future implementation of a micro-grid for the campus.”
The installation of Trinity’s fuel cell follows the addition of the College’s first sustainability coordinator, Rose Rodriguez, who will help coordinate the visions expressed in the Summit strategic plan “A Sustainable Future.” This fuel cell will help satisfy one key vision stated in the plan, specifically to “provide the infrastructure to support our environmental goals.”