Company partners with AMEA, FuelCell Energy and Mercedes-Benz to build fuel cell plant
An international energy company, a public power utility, a leading fuel cell company and a major automotive company announced today an historic partnership to build and install a fuel cell power plant at the Mercedes-Benz production facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The $2 million plus, 250-kilowatt pilot demonstration project is expected to be operational within a year.
The four companies teaming up are Southern Company (NYSE: SO), Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), FuelCell Energy (AMEX: FCL) and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI). The power plant utilizes FuelCell Energys Direct FuelCell stack in a unique design developed by MTU Friedrichshafen, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler and partner of FuelCell Energy. The objective of the project is to study the performance of new technology to further the advancement of environmentally-friendly energy sources.
Alabama Power Company will enter into a special customer partnership with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., as the fuel cell plant will be located in the service territory of this Southern Company subsidiary.
Southern Company is dedicated to exploring the full array of energy opportunities, including customer-sited, fuel cell power generation, said Dr. Charles H. Goodman, Southern Company vice president for research and environmental affairs. With Alabama Power, we are committed to this partnership arrangement with our customers to test this clean and efficient power generation technology.
We are excited about this fuel cell demonstration as an opportunity to team with other industry leaders and to bring this efficient and environmentally sensitive technology into a reality for our members and our industry. This is a landmark occasion; this project is perhaps the final step toward the commercialization of the Direct FuelCell power plant technology which AMEA has supported vigorously for over ten years, said Bob Claussen, General Manager of AMEA and Board Chairman of the Fuel Cell Commercialization Group.
We are pleased that these world-class organizations, including Southern Company, AMEA, MTU Friedrichshafen and MBUSI, are joining us to further demonstrate the unique electric power generating capabilities of the Direct FuelCell power plant, said Jerry Leitman, CEO of FuelCell Energy. This commercial field trial power plant represents a significant step toward realizing the potential to deliver clean, fuel-efficient electric power to Alabama and the world.
MBUSI is pleased to be part of this project which seeks to develop alternative, environmentally-friendly energy sources as we move forward in the new century, said MBUSI CEO and President Bill Taylor. Our company has a long-standing tradition of being a leader in environmental initiatives; therefore, partnering with these world-class organizations to explore new advancements seemed like a perfect fit.
Southern Company, AMEA and FuelCell Energy will provide funding for the fuel cell power plant, and Southern Company will serve as project manager. MBUSI will provide the resources and venue for the demonstration site to simulate actual field operating conditions during the project. All partners will share in the knowledge gained in the demonstration of the power plant under actual field operations, and FuelCell Energy will apply the knowledge gained toward the design of future commercial Direct FuelCell plants.
The fuel cell plant will operate for at least one year, and the companies may agree to continue to operate the project on the MBUSI site. Southern Company and AMEA have options to negotiate exclusive arrangements for the sale, distribution and service of FuelCell Energys commercial power plants elsewhere.
MTU Friedrichshafen has licensed FuelCell Energys Direct Fuel Cell technology while FuelCell Energy has licensed MTUs unique power plant design, called the Hot Module. The plant will convert pipeline natural gas to AC electricity at an efficiency of about 50 percent. The plant will feed the Mercedes-Benz production facility power distribution system. In addition, the entire plant will be skid-mounted, making it easy to transport to different locations for additional demonstrations. MTU is currently conducting a 250 kW commercial field trial at Bielefeld, Germany, generating electricity to the grid, processing steam for the university and heat for district heating.
The growing demand for clean, efficient power in the US and the world is driving interest in fuel cell technology. Because fuel cells use an electrochemical reaction rather than combustion to generate electricity, electrical efficiencies are high and emissions are minimal, making them an environmentally- friendly method of producing electricity.
Southern Company, based in Atlanta, is an international energy company with more than 48,000 MW of electricity. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the worlds leading independent power producers. Alabama Power Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company, providing retail electric service to over 1.3 million energy customers in Alabama.
Alabama Municipal Electric Authority- www.amea.com -is a not-for-profit public corporation located in Montgomery, Ala. established in 1981 to provide, among other services, dependable and economical electric power to their members who serve over 350,000 consumers in Alabama. AMEA member cities include Alexander City, Dothan, Fairhope, Foley, LaFayette, Lanett, Luverne, Opelika, Piedmont, Sylacauga and Tuskegee, Alabama.
FuelCell Energy, Inc. (AMEX: FCL) - www.fce.com- is a world recognized leader in high efficiency fuel cell power plants in the range of 250 kW to 3 MW and larger for stationary power generation. FuelCell Energy is based in Danbury, Conn. with its manufacturing facility in Torrington, Conn.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. is the Tuscaloosa, Ala. based manufacturing company for the M-Class sport utility vehicle, which is sold in more than 135 countries. MBUSI is a DaimlerChrysler company.