Whole Foods Market Generates On-Site Power With Fuel-Cell Technology

Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury, Conn., is one of the first supermarkets in the nation to generate a substantial amount of its power on-site with an ultra-clean fuel cell, from UTC Power, South Windsor, Conn.

The 46,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, which opened in March, is generating more than 50% of the electricity and heat, and nearly 100% of the hot water, needed to operate the space on-site with the fuel-cell technology. (Fuel cells, which are highly efficient and virtually pollution-free, produce electricity, heat and water electrochemically, meaning there is no combustion.)

The system allows Whole Foods to reduce its burden on the power grid and its impact on the environment. The harnessed exhaust energy will cool refrigeration cases year-round and heat the store in the winter months.

The fuel cell at the supermarket has been configured for grid-independent operation and is capable of providing 200 kW of standby power if there is a grid failure, enabling the store to operate without disruption.

“Our UTC Power PureCell system provides Whole Foods Market with enhanced energy security and will ensure a reliable food supply for customers and protect against costly food spoilage if the power grid goes down,” said Jan van Dokkum, president, UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. company.

Whole Foods Market’s use of a fuel-cell system vs. a conventional power plant has carbon-dioxide-mitigating benefits equal to planting more than 21 acres of forest, the companies said, and reductions in nitrogen-oxide emissions equal to removing 100 cars from the roadways per year.