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The media company will use the technology at two major production facilities in southern California.
CBS Studios plans to install six UTC Power stationary fuel cells like the one above at two production sites in California. The cells will handle a respectable majority of the studios' power and climate control needs (specifics in a moment), plus they will also give the facilities some degree of energy independence (in case there is a grid outage, they will still have some power).
CBS is installing the PureCell systems at the CBS Studio Center, a production facility with 18 sound stages and offices in Studio City, Calif.; and at the CBS Television City in Los Angeles, which has eight sound stages and office space. Together, the cells will have a capacity of 2.4 megawatts, which will handle 40 percent and 60 percent of the electricity needs at the studios, respectively.
Thermal energy from the cells will handle space heating, some cooling and the hot water at the Television City site.
There are three cells being installed at each facility, expected to go into production at the end of 2012. Four of the systems will be independent of the electric grid, so they will remain operational (in theory) even if there is an outage in the local community.
"With the installation of these PureCell systems, we will substantially increase our energy security by being able to continue operations in the event a grid outage and, equally important, the installation is projected to reduce our impact on the environment and provide significant energy cost savings for our business," said Michael Klausman, president of CBS Studio Center and Senior Vice President of Operations for CBS Television City.
(A disclosure: SmartPlanet is published by CBS Interactive, which obviously has the same parent company as CBS Studios. I am not an employee of either company, though I clearly write for SmartPlanet. They didn't assign this piece.)
CBS is anticipating a reduction of energy consumption from the cells, of course, but it also is counting on a serious decrease in the amount of water needed to product its energy. The company figures that the cells will help save up to 2.8 million gallons of water annually, which is a big consideration if you happen to be operating in the state of California.
Jul 4, 2012
If the technology ever becomes cheap enough, this could be an option for homes as well. It turns out from my last electric/gas bill that with a fuel cell with 50% efficiency (which has already been achieved in production environments), I can use natural gas to produce my electric needs at 60% of the price of what I now pay for electricity. In states with a net metering requirement for utilities, this means I could actually produce more electricity than I need 24/7 and sell it back to the electric utility at a profit (my gas and electric utility are one and the same, making it even more delicious). The big problem is that a fuel cell big enough for most homes is in the $50,000 range to purchase and install. Even though you can make electricity at profit, it still takes too long to make back that initial investment. Let's hope advances in fuel cells such as from Bloom Energy will bring that down.