In your March 28 article regarding College of the Canyons and their $3 million award for energy efficiency, you stated “this allows the college to eliminate its use of natural gases, which drastically reduces the largest source of NOx emissions.”
Please note that the energy sources by Bloom Energy include solar panels, batteries, a fuel cell and a heat exchanger. While the solar panels may provide energy during the sunny days and some ability to charge the batteries, the fuel cell will typically run at night to charge the batteries for the campus power use on the next day. The fuel cell produces electrical energy from natural gas. So natural gas is used in the process and those emissions do go into the local atmosphere (here in Santa Clarita). While the fuel cell and batteries may allow COC to operate in a cleaner, more efficient manner, they have not eliminated their use of natural gas. Additionally, fuel cells have a high operating cost and must be operated carefully or else they can fail prematurely. While we need to be innovative in our future power production, we also need to be sure that the public knows what’s in the box.
Editor’s note: You are correct that the equipment does not eliminate the use of natural gas. College officials say the equipment in question does not include solar panels or a heat exchanger. It’s a fuel cell that uses natural gas.