|Headquarters||Sunnyvale, California, USA (HQ)
|Key people||David Wright, President and CEO|
ClearEdge Power, Inc. is a fuel cell manufacturer focusing on the stationary fuel cell and small business markets. It is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, U.S. in the Silicon Valley. The company employed 225 people as of August 2011. It closed its operations in Connecticut in April 2014, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2014.
The company was founded in 2003 as Quantum Leap Technology after Brett Vinsant created the company's fuel cell in his garage in Hillsboro, Oregon. In August 2005, Quantum Leap changed its name to ClearEdge Power. In January 2006, they received a $2 million investment from a subsidiary of Applied Materials. At that time the company built fuel cell systems to produce back-up power and for continuous power applications. By May 2007, the company had grown to 20 employees and had raised $10 million in venture capital. In early 2008, ClearEdge sold and installed its first fuel cell unit.
ClearEdge received an additional $11 million in venture capital from Kohlberg Ventures LLC in January 2009. On May 1, 2009, Russell Ford became the chief executive officer of the then 40-employee company, with Slangerup joining the board of directors.
The company expanded the 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) headquarters to 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) in December 2009 after receiving an additional $15 million in venture capital from Kohlberg Ventures. At that time the company had grown to 150 employees, and 95% of all capital raised came from Kohlberg Ventures. ClearEdge raised a total of $29 million from Kohlberg in 2009 alone. In November 2009, the company began to ship a five kilowatt fuel cell and had orders for 300 of the units by December 2009. ClearEdge gained $11 million more in private financing in January 2010.
In February 2010, a fuel cell was installed at a Hillsboro Fire Department station; local dignitaries included Congressman David Wu. Wu’s district includes ClearEdge’s headquarters in Hillsboro, and Wu has sponsored several bills that would provide tax credits for fuel cell customers. ClearEdge backed one of the bills, which would increase the federal tax credit for installing a fuel cell at a residence to be same as for businesses. Neither of Wu’s bills have made it out of committee.
ClearEdge signed a $40 million deal in June 2010 to supply 800 fuel cells to Korean based LS Industrial Systems over a three-year period. LS Industrial Systems would sell the ClearEdge5 units in Korea, which had recently required 10 percent of power on new construction come from renewable power. This was the first large contract for the company outside of its core California market. The company planned to build 1,000 units in 2010, and double that in 2011. ClearEdge was awarded a $2.8 million federal Department of Energy grant that would allow them to provide 38 fuel cells to ten different organizations including a grocery store and community college. They raised $73.5 million in private equity funding in August 2011 to help expand sales to Europe and South Korea.
In December 2012, ClearEdge reached an agreement with United Technologies Corp. to buy its fuel cell business, UTC Power. In February 2013, ClearEdge closed on its acquisition of UTC Power. The next month, the company reduced its workforce by 39%, with many layoffs coming at the former UTC unit. Later that month the company announced it had raised another $36 million in capital. In 2013, the company relocated its headquarters to Sunnyvale, California. The former UTC unit in Connecticut was then closed without warning in April 2014 as the company weighed filing for bankruptcy protection.
ClearEdge Power's headquarters are in Sunnyvale, California. The former headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing facility were located in Hillsboro, Oregon, in an 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) facility. Manufacturing capacity is about 2,400 units annual at full single-shift production, or up to 6,000 units with additional shifts. The main product is a five kilowatt fuel cell, though there are plans for a 10 kW unit, and as small as 2 kW. The technology is based on silicon and operates at 320 °F (160 °C).
The fuel cell is powered by natural gas which a membrane breaks down into water, heat, carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen, with the latter passing through a second membrane where electricity is generated. CO2 and water are the only waste produced. The fuel cell is approximately 85% efficient if the heat is used in the building. Traditional fuel systems are about 30% efficient.
The main product is the ClearEdge5, which produces up to five kilowatts, with the heat by-product suitable for space and water heating. In all, a single fuel cell can produce 43.8 megawatt hours of electricity annually, and has a 20 year lifespan. ClearEdge offers the cell for $56,000 and markets to places where solar energy may be less effective. The primary market is large homes and small businesses, though the marketing and sales focus is on California where high energy prices and government incentives make the units more feasible. The ClearEdge5 is about the size of a large refrigerator. ClearEdge is looking to integrate its 5 kW product with its recently acquired 400 kW units, PureCell Systems, as a way to broaden in the marketplace.
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