While former Los Angels Angels owner, Jackie Autry was having her ClearEdge5 fuel cell installed in her home earlier this year, long term stability tests were still being conducted by the manufacturer at a wind farm in Livermore, Calif. With tests now concluded, we think Jackie will be happy to hear that the test results were reportedly very positive. According to ClearEdge Power President and CEO Russell Ford, the 5-kilowatt fuel cell has been running consistently, with 98.6 percent availability since its installation.
The ClearEdge5 fuel cell is about the size of refrigerator and works by converting natural gas into hydrogen. It then routes the hydrogen through a fuel cell stack that converts the hydrogen into DC electrical current and heat. The heat can be used to heat a home or create hot water. The DC current is converted to AC, which can then power the home. Since many houses, new and old, have natural gas available, the fuel cell is an attractive option for homeowners that wish to take their home off the electrical grid.
According to ClearEdge, the cost of electricity generated by the fuel cell is said to be roughly half that of current utility rates. It also reportedly ensures owners that the power they are using is not dependent on foreign oil.
The initial investment for a ClearEdge5 is about $50,000(!), however some $17,500 is available through rebates and tax credits. There are also programs in some states that will allow excess power to be fed back into the grid, for which utilities will provide even more credits. Overall, the technology looks to be a feasible way to generate cleaner energy for most of the nation, though natural gas as a form of renewable power is certainly not without its share of controversies.