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New Whole Foods Unit to Tap Fuel Cell Power

A new Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury, Conn. will be the first supermarket to generate most of its power on-site with an "ultra-clean fuel cell" from UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. company, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods said yesterday.

"We are always looking to reduce our impact on the environment," said Kathy Loftus, global leader, sustainable engineering, maintenance, and energy for Whole Foods, in a statement. "Together with UTC Power and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, we've designed a combined cooling, heating, and power system for our new Glastonbury store using a quiet, highly energy-efficient fuel cell that will reduce our carbon footprint dramatically."

The new 46,000-square-foot store, which opens its doors on March 12, will generate 50 percent of the electricity and heat and nearly 100 percent of the hot water needed to operate the store on-site using fuel cell technology, according to Whole Foods.

As Whole Foods explained the technology, more than half of the energy potential in traditional power plants is lost to the atmosphere as waste heat or in line transmission losses. In contrast, the UTC Power fuel cell system captures its exhaust energy for local cooling and heating. The harnessed exhaust energy at the store will cool refrigeration cases year-round and heat the store in the winter months.

The fuel cell at the Glastonbury Whole Foods Market will be configured for grid-independent operation and is capable of providing 200 kW of standby power if there's a grid failure, which will enable the store to operate without disruption, the retailer noted.

Fuel cells are considered to be one of the cleanest and quietest power-generating technologies in the world today, Whole Foods said. Also highly efficient and virtually pollution-free, fuel cells produce electricity, heat and water electrochemically, meaning there is no combustion.

The store's fuel cell is eligible for an Onsite Renewable Energy grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF). The CCEF promotes, develops, and invests in clean energy sources for sustainable energy for the benefit of Connecticut ratepayers.
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