ClearEdge sustains brisk growth
By Erik Siemers
In the past six months, ClearEdge Power Inc.’s hydrogen fuel cells have grown from a concept into a real product.
Since May, ClearEdge’s work force grew from 40 to 150 employees. The company sold and installed its first six $50,000 power-generating fuel cells and opened three sales offices in California, with a fourth coming this year.
Now, its 55,000-square-foot Hillsboro headquarters is growing to 80,000 square feet as ClearEdge ramps up to full-scale production.
It’s all happening with a fresh $15 million infusion of capital and the guidance of new CEO Russell Ford, who expects ClearEdge to grow to $50 million in sales and employ 300 by this time next year.
“We are creating and introducing technologies that are fundamentally changing the way power is produced in the U.S.,” said Ford, an enthusiastic Southerner who took over May 1. “It’s like this is 1967 and we’re inventing the microwave oven.”
The company’s core product is the ClearEdge5, a combined heat and power device capable of generating five kilowatts of power an hour using hydrogen extracted from natural gas. Aside from the electricity it generates, the heat produced by the system can be used for water or space heating.
The system, a rectangular box akin to a refrigerator, is designed as a power source for small businesses or residences larger than 4,000 square feet.
For now, ClearEdge is focused mainly on California, where the available government incentives and increasingly high cost of power conspire to form the most palatable market for adopting new energy technologies.
ClearEdge’s $50,000 fuel cells for commercial customers, for example, become $22,500 after a federal tax credit worth about $15,000 and a California rebate for self-generated power worth $12,500. The company boasts of a return on investment within four years or less.
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