Albertsons to make power on site with fuel cell

South Windsor, Conn. Albertsons on Wednesday will open a supermarket in Clairemont, Calif., that will be one of the first in the state to generate nearly 90% of the electricity it needs with a 400-kilowatt fuel cell. The new 55,000-sq.-ft. store is using a fuel cell from UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. company.

The project is estimated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 478 metric tons each year, compared with California non-baseload powerplants. The annual nitrogen oxide emissions reduction is equal to removing 82 cars from the roadways per year.

"When it comes to minimizing our environmental footprint, the Clairemont store is a tremendous achievement for us," noted Rick Crandall, director of environmental stewardship, Albertsons, which is part of Supervalu. "With the assistance of UTC Power's fuel cell, it's our first store that significantly reduces its burden on the power grid."

Byproduct heat from the fuel cell process will be captured and used to warm water used in the store, heat the store when necessary and to power a chiller to help cool the refrigerated food, resulting in an overall energy efficiency of approximately 60%, nearly twice the efficiency of the U.S. electrical grid.

If there is a power outage within the area, the store will be able to operate without disruption because electricity is generated on-site by the fuel cell. This will allow Albertsons to avoid costly food spoilage and ensure a reliable food supply in emergency situations.

"The availability of incentive funding for clean energy alternatives and rising electricity rates are helping boost interest in fuel cells," said Neal Montany, director, UTC Power stationary fuel cell business. "We continue to see strong interest in the supermarket sector and have installations at stores in several states.”

Albertsons’ Clairemont store features a number of other eco-friendly measures, including:

  • Highly efficient LED lighting in the dairy and frozen food doors that reduce energy consumption by more than 50% to 65%;
  • Photo sensors in 33 skylights measure the amount of day light from the outdoor sky and adjust the electric light levels accordingly, saving energy;
  • Night curtains that are pulled over all open cold cases in the evening to seal in the cool air, and reduce spoilage and energy costs by up to 25%; and
  • Water-saving faucets and fixtures installed in the restrooms to reduce the amount of water used by over 45%.