Fuel Cells Help Schools Cut Energy Bills

We’ve heard plenty recently about schools going green by adding solar and wind power–often with associated educational programs for students–but this may be the first we’ve heard of a school cutting its carbon footprint with hydrogen fuel cells.

The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) has announced that its Woodbridge and University High Schools will be using ClearEdge Power fuel cell energy appliances, making them the first high schools in the country to do so. The California school district recently signed a 12-unit deal with ClearEdge, and plans to use the fuel cells to heat the schools’ swimming pools and supplement their standard power needs.

Clear Edge fuel cell appliance

image via Clear Edge Power

Dr. Gwen E. Gross, IUSD’s superintendent of schools, reports that the district had initially considered a solar thermal solution for the schools, but determined that this would have required an expensive retrofit to the schools’ roofs (in order to accommodate the solar panels). “ClearEdge Power was able to offer a more cost-effective solution, provide electricity in addition to heat, and still reduce our schools’ carbon footprint,” she said, in a statement. “With the ClearEdge Power fuel cell solution, we made the right choice for our students and our schools.”

The power and heat provided by these fuel cells are expected to save each school nearly $18,000 a year in operating expenses and reduce their CO2 emissions by 37 percent.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.