Ore. company selling $85M in fuel cells in Europe

January 10, 2012 - 7:45 PM

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon fuel cell manufacturer announced Tuesday it is expanding into central Europe with a contract to sell $85 million worth of fuel cell systems to an Austrian company.

ClearEdge Power Inc., in Hillsboro, said the contract will provide fuel cell systems that can generate 8.5 megawatts of power to Gussing Renewable Energy GmbH over the next three years. It's the first phase of a plan to provide cells that will produce up to 50 megawatts of power by the year 2020 for use in homes, office complexes and other businesses.

Gussing, in Gussing, Austria, produces methane from farm and forest waste and plans to use it to power the fuel cells.

ClearEdge President and CEO Russell Ford said the deal marks a major expansion into central Europe for the company, which has sold systems in Oregon, California and South Korea.

The deal also represents a convergence of renewable energy systems that have until now developed separately, Ford said.

ClearEdge, a privately held company, produces 5-kilowatt 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. Each 5-kilowatt unit can power about three average-sized homes, and the fuel cells can be combined into systems producing as much as 200 kilowatts.

The agreement calls for Gussing to sell, install and service ClearEdge systems in Austria.

Gussing Chairman Michael Dichand said in a written statement that the company sees fuel cells as a complement to Gussing's anaerobic digesters that produce methane gas 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. Ford said they expect to double in size in the next year and a half to serve the market in Europe.

Clear Edge has installed about a third of systems at 10 sites in Oregon and California covered by a $2.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, Ford said. Among the sites is Portland Community College.