The University of California, San Diego, which already calls itself one of the “greenest” universities in the nation, today will announce plans to build a fuel cell plant that will create and store clean energy at night for use during the daytime peak hours.

The plant will take purified methane gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment and convert it into 2.8 megawatts of electricity, which represents between 8 percent and 10 percent of the university’s overall power usage. The plant will generate the power at night, and store it for use during the day when energy use on campus is at its highest.

The fuel cell system will be built by Danbury, Conn.-based FuelCell Energy and be installed on the UCSD campus by late 2009, according to the university. The methane will be collected and purified by Linde Group, a German company. The total project cost will be about $16 million. A university spokesman said the project’s cost will be largely borne by the Linde Group, which will sell the power generated by the plant to the university.

The California Public Utilities Commission will contribute $3.4 million to the project via an incentive program. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009. At that time, officials hope the university will be approaching its goal of generating eight megawatts of electricity from alternative energy sources, which also include wind and solar.


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