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Demonstration of fuel cell-based energy storage solutions for isolated micro-grid or off-grid remote areas


The goal of this topic is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of fuel cell technologies generating electrical energy in off-grid or isolated micro-grid areas, as stand-alone solution integrated with electrolyser and renewables.

Fuel cell technologies in the power range of 5-200 kW will be demonstrated in at least 2 sites as stand-alone and back-up power supply of technical installations (i.e. telecommunications equipment or similar) OR as end user power supply in off-grid or micro-grid remote areas. A minimum of 250 kW total power production (fuel cell) will be demonstrated. This will allow addressing different load requirement of isolated sites (e.g. remote businesses or housing/schools).

Existing sources of renewable energy will be used. Demonstration of electrolyser, storage equipment and fuel cell system is in the scope of the project. The size of the electrolyser will be defined according to the specific site requirements (i.e. type and size of the local renewable source, and especially time profile of the renewable along the day/week).

The project should:

  • Validate real demonstration units in representative applications of isolated micro-grid or off-grid areas, in order to enable suppliers, end users and general stakeholders to gain experience throughout the value chain; and
  • Demonstrate the added value of hydrogen based power-to-power energy storage solutions with respect to alternative technologies in terms of economics, technical capabilities and environmental benefits.
  • Demonstrate a successful operation for a cumulated duration of at least 2 years

Further objectives:

  • Demonstration through field applications of the advantages of innovative technologies (hardware or software) including, but not limited to, monitoring, control, diagnostics, lifetime estimation, new BoP components;
  • Demonstration of cost efficient solutions to the remote area, service and maintenance challenges;
  • Online monitoring of operating conditions, load demands and system output will provide initial data to determine the overall efficiency of the system within the testing period;
  • Optimization of power electronics to guarantee a proper integration of electrolyser and fuel cell products with the renewable source and end user/microgrid.

The project will be open to all fuel cell technologies.

Field demonstration usage data, efficiency, reliability are to be reported.

The proposals should represent a step forward former micro-grid and off-grid project results.

The consortium will include EU electrolyser and fuel cell system manufacturers, relevant suppliers for Balance-of-Plant components and research institutions or academic groups.

International collaboration in this field is highly encouraged, especially with IPHE members.

TRL at start: 6

TRL at end: 7

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5 million per project. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

Expected duration: 3-5 years

Isolated areas in Europe (e.g. villages, alpine refuges or 1000s of islands) have high electricity generation cost, due to the special challenges posed by the remoteness in terms of difficult access, harsh climate, low population density. The production of electricity in these areas generally derives from combustion plants powered by fossil fuels and the cost of electrical energy in these areas is heavily dependent on the high cost of these fossil fuels (i.e. the installation cost, the service logistics and the fuel transport) due to the remote location.

Today, numerous islands have significant renewable energy capacity or plan to invest in this sector. However, most of these isolated energy systems have not yet been able to guarantee their independence from fossil fuels. This is mainly because of the renewables intermittency and the lack of long term (weeks, months) energy storage solutions for these remote locations.

The specific challenge of the topic is to demonstrate in isolated micro-grids and/or off grid sites the implementation of reliable and clean integrated power solution based on electrolyser and fuel cell technology to secure cost-effective power supply, with the following site characteristics:

  • Accessibility for installation, service and maintenance is complex and expensive (transport and time);
  • Current power supply is not reliable (many power outages);
  • Import of fuel is expensive resulting in high electricity price (at least 0.25 Euro/kWh);
  • Use of fossil fuel and CO2 emissions are high;
  • Local commitment to go for 100% renewables energy system;
  • Storage of local energy sources is not in place today.

Following the topic from AWP2015 related to the development of electrolysers for hydrogen production in off-grid applications, this topic will focus on demonstration of integrated fuel cell-based energy solutions in off-grid remote areas or isolated micro-grid.

This demonstration must not only raise public awareness; it should be used to establish confidence in technology, business models and market readiness with end-users and authorities of isolated territories.

The project should focus on the following impacts:

  • Energy independency at the local scale, with maximum recovery of locally available RES;
  • Reduction of the cost of energy to the final users;
  • Reduction of use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions;
  • Reduce CAPEX in line with KPIs at 2020 of the MAWP: 3M€/(t/d) for electrolysers and 4,500€/kW for fuel cell systems. Proposals able to achieve improvements on the MAWP targets will be given preference.
  • Increase system lifetime to more than 15 years.
  • Demonstrate a viable solution and a replicable business case.
  • Improvement of energy supply security and reliability.
  • Supplier and user experience of installation/commissioning, operation, maintenance and use of fuel cell power generation.

To enable generalization of the field experience obtained, benefit from experience worldwide and facilitate technology replication, it is desirable that the selected project could feed into relevant ongoing standardization activities on fuel cells during the project.