Posted on Sep 30, 2009

President Stephen Ainlay at Plug Power event


There was a lot of energy in the great room of Beuth House Wednesday as a host of business leaders and politicians joined College officials to officially celebrate a new fuel cell being tested in one of Union’s Minerva houses.

The College was selected by Plug Power Inc. of Latham, N.Y. as the host site of a 5-kilowatt cell, GenSys, which will convert natural gas into electricity and high-quality heat for the 30 students living in Beuth. The project is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced last November. Plug Power and National Grid, a natural gas and electric utility, will test the system in the real-life operating conditions at Beuth and use the data collected to determine system refinements for incorporation into the next-generation system design.

The GenSys fuel cell in the basement of Beuth. Plug Power

President Stephen C. Ainlay told several dozen people in the audience, including Assemblymen Jim Tedisco ’72 and George Amedore, that the project is well-suited to the College’s commitment to sustainability. He also commended all of the parties involved in the unique project.

“This is the type of innovation we in the Capital Region have come to expect,” he said.

ribbon cutting 2 at plug power event sept. 30, 2009 in beuth house

Susan Crossett, vice president of energy solutions services for National Grid, said the project is a great educational tool to observe how new energy sources are developed. Ballston Spa High School and Schenectady Museum will engage students in fuel cell education and field trial data analysis as part of the project.

“This technology represents a promising clean energy technology that will play a significant role in the not too distant future,” she said.

Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power, called Union a perfect fit to host the fuel cell, which is located in the basement of Beuth.

“Through real-world field trials, such as this project at Union, alternative energy solutions for the everyday consumer move closer to reality.”

To read an earlier story about the project that appeared in the Times Union, click here.