One of the first homes in California has been fitted with a ClearEdge5 fuel cell to produce heat and power for the residence. Former Los Angels Angels owner, Jackie Autry, had the fuel cell installed in her Coachella Valley home earlier this year, and recently showcased the technology to community leaders. The 5 kWh combined heat and power system uses a chemical process to covert natural gas into heat and electricity at a constant rate.
According to the company, a ClearEdge5 fuel cell is eleven times more productive than a comparable solar powered system, and only requires 35 feet, inside or out, of space for installation. In terms of carbon offset, home-owner Autry stated that using the system will be equivalent to planting six acres of trees in her backyard, or roughly one-third of the total carbon emissions from the residence.
Residents looking to install the ClearEdge5 will have some incentives to help ease the cost. The company is projecting a $17,500 credit to individuals, which breaks down to a $12,500 rebate program based on $2.50 per watt calculation, and a $5,000 Investment Tax Credit. The incentives, combined with the projected 50% savings in utility bills, reportedly make the return on investment time for the ClearEdge5 approximately six years.
Southern California Gas Company announced earlier this year that they are investing $1 million in the Oregon fuel cell company, suggesting ClearEdge Power in on the right track in their cogeneration approach to powering homes. Similar solutions are already being used in the public sector for large-scale buildings like Walmart and Staples stores. While natural gas powered fuel cells may not be as green-friendly as biofuel produced energy, the technology is extremely efficient compared to solutions like solar panels.