NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Governor Dannel Malloy flipped the ceremonial giant switch to signal that the fuel cell outside the New Haven IKEA store is now operating. Just like the company is all about do-it-yourself furniture, it’s also about do it yourself energy.
“The most efficient place to generate electricity is at the place it’s consumed,” said Bill Kurtz, the Chief Commercial Officer of Bloom Energy. “That’s what we do for our customers and that’s why we’re so proud.”
Bloom Energy created this particular kind of fuel cell technology to power a mission to Mars, now it’s helping IKEA with its plan to be energy independent by the year 2020. In less than three years, IKEA plans to make all its own energy. What looks like a bunch of boxes outside the store will now supply 2 million kilowatt-hours a year.
“It cuts our energy costs in half and delivers about 50% of the power we need here in the store to operate,” said IKEA Store Manager Christoff Stein.
Fuel cells are basically small, gas-powered electrical plants. Instead of burning the gas to heat water and turn turbines, fuel cells use a chemical reaction to create the electricity. The knock on fuel cells has always been that they run on natural gas, a non-renewable resource, but this uses biogas, another word for methane that comes from landfills and farms. It’s much more environmentally friendly.
In addition to the fuel cell, the roof is also helping IKEA meets its energy goal. The whole thing is covered with solar panels. They flipped the switch on that four and a half years ago.
“The more pollutants we can take out of the air, the safer we’ll be,” explained Governor Dannel Malloy. “Not just from a changing climate, but quite frankly the quality of the air we breathe on a daily basis.”
The amount of carbon dioxide this fuel cell will keep out of the air is more than 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide. That is as much as taking 233 cars off the road.