Elected officials and clean energy enthusiasts from across the region are expected to join Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester on Friday, Feb. 23, for the dedication of a 1 megawatt fuel cell power plant at Northridge—the single largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world.
The plant will generate base load electricity for the university’s facilities and surplus heat for buildings, showers and food service hot water, and for heating the University Student Union’s swimming pool.
The power plant also provides a rare opportunity for students in the College of Science and Mathematics to study the carbon dioxide enrichment potential on plant life provided by the power plant to the university’s greenhouse. University officials are routing carbon dioxide exhaust from the plant’s heat exchanger into an adjacent miniature sub-tropical rainforest developed specifically to be sustained by the fuel cell plant’s operation.
Cal State Northridge has long been considered a leader in energy conservation among universities across the country. It was hailed in 2000 by the Clean Air Coalition for its use of alternative energy.
FuelCell Energy said institutions of higher education represent an excellent application of fuel cells’ 24/7 electrical generation—powering academic facilities during the day and providing critical base load needs at night. DFC power plants address significant energy issues in California—where power consumers face high energy costs, strict air quality standards and greenhouse gas reduction goals. The high efficiency of DFC power plants not reduced carbon dioxide, but results in less fuel needed per kilowatt hour of electricity and lower operating costs. In addition, DFC power plants provide greater energy reliability and energy security since they are located directly at customer sites, like CSUN.