Andrew Burger, Microgrid Knowledge
Connecticut has supercharged development of a 20-MW fuel cell microgrid — part of a $1 billion data center project in New Britain — with a 10-year, $55.2 million sales and use tax exemption.
EIP Investments intends to build a microgrid spanning 45,000 square-feet on the site of a shuttered Stanley Black & Decker manufacturing plant in the project’s $100 million first phase of development. That would make it the largest indoor fuel-cell system in the world, according to EIP.
The US subsidiary of South Korea’s Doosan will provide the fuel cells for the data center.
“Doosan will supply 44 fuel cells to the site and perform all the scheduled maintenance for a period of 20 years,” Michael Coskun, Doosan Fuel Cell America’s general manager for sales and development, told Microgrid Knowledge. “Doosan will also support the developers installation team and engineering efforts.”
Building the largest indoor fuel-cell microgrid in the world
The microgrid will be grid connected and have the ability to run autonomously, in island mode, in the event of grid outages. Connecticut utilities Eversource and United Illuminating will purchase the electricity under power purchase agreements (PPAs) with EIP. Doosan anticipates delivering the first fuel cell units to the project site in the second half of 2020, Coskun said.
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environment (DEEP) approved the fuel cell project in July 2018. It’s expected to create more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs over the course of the next 20 years, generate $45 million in tax revenues for New Britain and more than $200 million for the state. The state’s venture capital agency Connecticut Innovations recently granted the tax exemption.
Mark Wick, EIP partner, said the funding by Connecticut Innovations “will put us on par with 23 other states that are competing every day to attract national data center operators to their sites.” He added that it will apply only to the computing equipment after nearly $400 million is spent on the bricks and mortar. “This is the sign of a great public-private partnership, and we are very pleased.”
Doosan Fuel Cell America has been involved in the EIP data center microgrid project since 2016 when Coskun suggested that EIP might be able to obtain project financing by bidding into DEEP’s two, 20-MW clean energy requests for proposals (RFPs), Coskun said.
“The developer had wanted to build a data center for several years, and I suggested fuel cells as an alternative to the grid and traditional CHP (combined heat and power),” Coskun said. “[The RFP] allowed developers to build up to 20 MW of fuel cells and obtain a PPA from state of Connecticut’s two major utilities.”