Grocery Operations Ideal for Fuel Cell Technology: UTC Power

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Grocery Operations Ideal for Fuel Cell Technology: UTC Power

Supermarkets are a good fit for fuel cell technology, according to Palm Springs, Calif.-based UTC Power, which presented alongside its latest fuel cell customer -- Whole Foods Market – yesterday during the 2009 Food Marketing Institute’s Energy & Technical Services Conference at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif.

In addition to providing fuel cells for the Austin, Texas-based natural and organic foods retailer, UTC also supplies them for Price Chopper and Shaw’s Star Market stores.

The presentation was a case study of UTC’s work with Whole Foods. A 200-kilowatt UTC Power fuel cell has powered a Whole Foods store in Glastonbury, Conn., since March 2008, and a 400-kilowatt fuel cell will supply 90 percent of the power and all of the hot water needs for a new store in Dedham, Mass., the largest Whole Foods in the Northeast region.

According to UTC, fuel cells are one of the cleanest and quietest power-generating technologies in the world, producing electricity, heat, and water through an electrochemical process. Whole Foods’ Glastonbury and Dedham installations, by virtue of their environmental benefits, qualified for state-level grants through the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, respectively.

UTC said that more than half of the energy potential in traditional power plants is lost to the atmosphere as waste heat or in transmission line losses. A fuel cell, however, turns potential waste heat into usable energy, capturing it to cool supermarket refrigeration cases year-round and to heat the store in the winter months.

“We are seeing increased interest from both supermarkets and the big-box retail industry for our fuel cells,” said Neal Montany, director of the UTC Power stationary fuel cell business. “Energy-intensive businesses that need power around-the-clock and that can use the heat byproduct are a very good fit for fuel cells. The UTC Power PureCell system also can be configured to provide enhanced energy security and protect supermarkets against costly food spoilage in the event of a power failure.”

South Windsor, Conn.-based UTC Power is part of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which provides energy-efficient products and services to the aerospace and building industries. It’s also a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index each year since it was launched in 1999.