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Pfizer to Install Fuel Cell Plant at Groton Facility

FuelCell Energy
FuelCell Energy will install two of its DFC3000 fuel cell units at the Groton facility.

Pfizer will install a fuel cell power plant at its Groton research and development facility. The aim is both to move to a greener form of energy, and to have the potential for off-grid reliability.

Pfizer’s presence in Connecticut may be reduced, but its 160 acre campus in Groton is still a key research center for the global pharmaceutical company. It has commissioned Danbury’s FuelCell Energy to build a 5.6 megawatt fuel cell generation system to provide a portion of the facility's power needs.

"The value proposition that we've offered Pfizer allows them to get immediate savings," said Chip Bottone, the CEO of FuelCell Energy. "We'll reduce their energy costs. It also simultaneously reduces their carbon footprint, and -- it's important for them being a research facility and a major employer there -- it allows them to have some greater independence and resiliency."

Pfizer confirms that reliability and environmental performance are their primary motivations for moving to fuel cells, pointing to the technology's reliable track record, and high quality power output. The company also says there's a shorter lead time to approval and installation than with conventional combustion means of power generation.

FuelCell will work to attract private capital to finance and own the plant, while Pfizer agrees to purchase the power and steam generated under a 20-year agreement. Bottone says he believes this business model could be very significant in the future for private employers who are interested in the energy independence that fuel cell installations can provide.

"What we're doing here is a great model for other people that we're speaking to within the pharma industry," he told WNPR. "Not only from a technical perspective, but from a similar business model, and that means that we'll go ahead and design it, build it, and then we basically won't require them to put in capital."

Fuel cells use a source, often natural gas, to produce electricity and heat with virtually the only byproducts being carbon dioxide and water. The installation, which should be operational by summer this year, will reduce Pfizer’s energy costs, and allow it to partially power its Groton campus during grid outages.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.
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