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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Enabling the Distributed Generation Market of High Temperature Fuel Cell and Absorption Chiller Systems to Support Critical and Commercial Loads

  • Author(s): DiMola, Ashley M.
  • Advisor(s): Samuelsen, G. Scott
  • et al.

Buildings account for over 18% of the world's anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. As a result, a technology that can offset GHG emissions associated with buildings has the potential to save over 9 Giga-tons of GHG emissions per year. High temperature fuel cell and absorption chiller (HTFC/AC) technology offers a relatively low-carbon option for meeting cooling and electric loads for buildings while producing almost no criteria pollutants. GHG emissions in the state of California would decrease by 7.48 million metric tons per year if every commercial building in the State used HTFC/AC technology to meet its power and cooling requirements. In order to realize the benefits of HTFC/AC technology on a wide scale, the distributed generation market needs to be exposed to the technology and informed of its economic viability and real-world potential.

This work characterizes the economics associated with HTFC/AC technology using select scenarios that are representative of realistic applications. The financial impacts of various input factors are evaluated and the HTFC/AC simulations are compared to the economics of traditional building utilities. It is shown that, in addition to the emissions reductions derived from the systems, HTFC/AC technology is financially preferable in all of the scenarios evaluated. This work also presents the design of a showcase environment, centered on a beta-test application, that presents (1) system operating data gathered using a custom data acquisition module, and (2) HTFC/AC technology in a clear and approachable manner in order to serve the target audience of market stakeholders.

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