Made in Connecticut: FuelCell Energy
Each month, we profile a Connecticut manufacturer, showcasing the ingenuity and innovation driving the state’s economy. For March, we talked with Jason Few, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, headquartered in Danbury.
Danbury, Torrington, and additional locations in Canada, Germany, and South Korea.
When was your company founded?
How many employees work for your company?
400—and we’re hiring!
What products does your company manufacture? Who are your customers?
FuelCell Energy is a global leader in decarbonizing power and producing hydrogen through our proprietary fuel cell technology.
We produce low-to-zero carbon power from a flexible array of inputs including biogas, natural gas, and hydrogen. We also capture carbon dioxide (for use or sequestration) while making power.
For hydrogen, we can produce hydrogen from power and water through electrolysis, or co-produce hydrogen, power, and water from fuel.
We can also store energy from intermittent renewables by converting excess power to hydrogen—then converting hydrogen back into power when it’s needed.
We have more than 220 megawatts of our fuel cells installed across the U.S., Europe and Asia, with customers including Pfizer here in Connecticut.
Why did you choose manufacturing?
FuelCell Energy designs and has our primary manufacturing facility in Torrington, Connecticut. While we started out as a company focused on energy research, we identified fuel cells as an efficient, reliable and distributed source of power and related attributes for utilities and industry. We identified the market need for such a solution, and decided to commercialize our proprietary technology.
What makes your company unique?
We believe we have the only technology that can:
- Capture carbon dioxide while producing power
- Produce hydrogen, power, and water simultaneously
- Provide a number of value streams, including: electricity, heat, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and water at the same time
- We have development relationships with the U.S. Department of Energy, and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company provide funding and encourage technology development.
Why did you choose Connecticut?
FuelCell Energy has called Connecticut, the birthplace and worldwide capital of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry, home for 53 years.
What is the greatest advantage to operating in Connecticut?
Fuel cells pay state and local taxes, including sales taxes. Connecticut fuel cell manufacturers also pay payroll taxes for their employees.
Each megawatt of fuel cells procured in the state creates or retains 6.2 high-tech manufacturing jobs and two indirect industry jobs, creates approximately $810,000 in state and local tax revenue, and adds to infrastructure investment and expansion.
And unlike other renewable energy technologies that consume suburban and rural open space and require transmission facilities to move the power to where it is needed, fuel cells are located in high density, urban areas and remediate sites with limited development value, providing power where needed and bringing the benefits of clean air and environmental justice to underprivileged communities.
Connecticut remains the center of the universe for the fuel cell industry. Our world-class manufacturing facility in Torrington benefits immeasurably from the highly-skilled Connecticut workforce. Connecticut is invested in FCE, and FCE is invested in Connecticut—and we expect that to continue.
Where do you see your company in five years? Ten years?
Since there is no one-size-fits-all answer for the world’s complex energy problems, we are well positioned to chart a path to a carbon zero world in a more realistic and achievable way, including by delivering new ways to enhance carbon utilization.
We are confident FuelCell Energy will help shape the future of reliable clean energy globally and assist in mitigating climate change, improving air quality, and transforming the global energy landscape.
We are focused on enhancing our platform solutions of today, as well as delivering next-generation solutions that enable decarbonization and the hydrogen economy.
At FuelCell Energy, we’re doing our part by developing a plan to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
This year, we are: calculating our organizational carbon footprint baseline, conducting product life cycle assessments to understand emissions throughout the value chain, setting short term goals (2030) and long-term goals (2050) aligned with science-based targets, developing a roadmap to net zero emissions to guide our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions reduction goals and engaging employees on our net zero journey.
FCE will be an essential player in delivering meaningful, reliable, and affordable solutions to decarbonizing energy and producing hydrogen to the benefit of all residents in Connecticut.
What’s the main thing policymakers could implement to make your company more competitive?
Connecticut needs to value resiliency and renew its recognition of economic diversity, environmental justice, and obligations to its urban areas in its energy policy.
Legislation is needed that recognizes one of the most substantial benefits of its localized fuel cell technology, namely, that fuel cells can be located wherever the power is needed.
Unlike offshore wind or large solar farms that have to rely on the transmission and distribution system to get power where it is needed, fuel cells can fit anywhere—right on site. And fuel cells can provide ancillary benefits, such as thermal energy, hydrogen generation, long duration hydrogen storage or carbon capture and separation.
FCE has come before the General Assembly and the Energy and Technology Committee many, many times in the past five-six years to remind our state of the jobs, taxes, and economic benefits brought by the fuel cell industry.
Connecticut should adopt a more consistently supportive posture with respect to the fuel cell industry, which annually contributes $1.4 billion in revenue and investment and more than 6,620 direct, indirect, and induced jobs into the state’s economy.
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