Ore. company selling $500M in fuel cells

January 10, 2012 - 5:55 PM

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon fuel cell manufacturer said Tuesday it has reached an agreement to sell $500 million worth of equipment to an energy company in Austria.

ClearEdge Power Inc., in Hillsboro, said the agreement with Gussing Renewable Energy GmbH, in Gussing, Austria, is one of the biggest yet in the fledgling fuel cell industry and will produce up to 50 megawatts of power by the year 2020.

A privately held company, ClearEdge produces fuel cells that are about the size of a home refrigerator. They take a fuel such as natural gas and break it down to produce heat and electricity.

The agreement calls for Gussing to sell, install and service ClearEdge systems in Austria. The first phase calls for delivering 8.5 megawatts of power over the next three years, ClearEdge said. The units will be fueled by methane produced by Gussing from farm and forest waste.

Last August, ClearEdge announced an infusion of $75 million in venture capital to help it generate sales in Europe and South Korea. It currently employs about 225 people, 200 of them in Hillsboro.

Last summer, it announced a $2.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to install fuel cell systems at 10 locations in Oregon and California.

"Gussing Renewable Energy is at the cutting edge of environmental sustainability and an agreement of this magnitude further validates the role that scalable, continuous onsite power systems will play in the transition to a carbon-neutral society," ClearEdge President and CEO Russell Ford said in a statement.

Gussing Chairman Michael Dichand said in the statement that the company sees fuel cells as a complement to their anaerobic digesters producing methane gas from farm and forest waste.