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Large scale demonstration of commercial fuel cells in the power range of 20-100kW in different market applications


It is the main scope of the project to demonstrate that the FCH technology in the power range of 20-100 kW is ready to contribute to European energy challenges as energy efficiency and power security combined with significant reduction of emissions. Several European industries are active in this power range and are ready to initiate the drive to achieving economies of scale and hence significantly reduce costs enabling further roll-outs/deployment.

In such context of distributed power generation, the main objectives of the topic are to strengthen the performance and reliability of fuel cell systems in various sites in Europe. Such decentralized base load power generation with FCH technology will be implemented while respecting the European industrial requirements of related applications in commercial sector: CHP in apartment building, small industry, critical loads in small industry, security networks etc., also addressing public sector with highly controlled and conservative procurement processes.

This project includes fuel cell systems from minimum 3 different fuel cell system manufacturers in the power range of 20-100kW in order to demonstrate in minimum three countries the different technological products and compare maturity. The installed capacity will be at least 400kW in order to proof concept of scale with regards to allowing progress on standardisation, cost reduction and will address different requirements and applications to compare solutions coming from different European industries. The project will demonstrate at minimum 20 sites with one unit per site in order to demonstrate each of the manufacturers’ technology in a replicable scale. Different power level units in the range of 20-100 kW will be demonstrated in the project. This will also help to increase the public awareness of fuel cell systems as a valuable alternative compared to conventional systems across Europe.

Further objectives:

  • Demonstration, evaluation and optimization of new solutions and components especially at the FC stack level and/or on systems levels through field tests with improved product concepts e.g. pre-serial status as compared to previous field trials, by validating next generations of product designs.
  • Demonstration through field applications of the advantages of innovative technologies (hardware or software) including, but not limited to, monitoring, control, diagnosis, lifetime estimation, new BoP components.
  • Online monitoring of operating conditions, load demands and system output will provide initial data to determine the overall efficiency of the system within the project period.
  • Establishment of a demonstration/commercialization pathway for European SMEs innovating in the development, manufacture and supply chain of fuel cell products by involvement of customers including distributors and end users.

Field demonstration usage data, efficiency, reliability are to be reported. Any event (accidents, incidents, near misses) that may occur during the project execution shall be reported into the European reference database HIAD (Hydrogen Incident and Accident Database) at

The project can address one or several application segments. The project will be open to all fuel cell technologies. The project is also open for different fuel sources for the fuel cells, but hydrogen from renewable sources should be considered where possible. Electrolyser costs are not included.

TRL at start: 6

TRL at end: 7-8

To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity of the Industry or Research Grouping.

The consortium should include at least three fuel cell manufacturers providing minimum two and maximum ten units per manufacturer and additionally relevant customers from the industrial and or commercial sector. Research institutions and academic groups could be also included. The total installed power should be at least 400kW.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 7.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3-5 years

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

The European energy market has to face the growth of power demand in the industrialized countries.

There are special challenges in each market applications for the commercial sector in the range of 20-100 kW where fuel cell systems can play a key role:

  • Alternative power supply for these applications is mostly diesel powered and produces CO2, noise and other emissions;
  • Distributed electricity systems need more flexibility for safe operation;
  • Need for high energy efficiency and power security and possible integration of renewable energy.

The Roland Berger study “Advancing Europe’s energy systems: Stationary fuel cells in distributed generations” (2015) also mentions “Whilst European power grids are still amongst the most reliable in the world, critical infrastructure providers and businesses with sensitive applications are becoming increasingly interested in decoupling the availability of electricity from the grid and becoming more independent.”

Indeed, the investment costs, availability and lifetime of the system should be comparable to conventional alternatives.

The key markets for 20-100 kW FC technology in the commercial sector are base load operations, also in CHP configuration, for small data centres, commercial and public buildings, telecommunication switching centres, signalling technique for trains and motorways, small industries, security networks and public infrastructure that need to improve power security and energy efficiency. Additionally, in the waste hydrogen segment FCs can play a key role of improving energy efficiency and additional usage of hydrogen that otherwise would not have been used.

So far, no European or national projects funded demonstration of FC systems in such power range and in such market applications.

The suggested topic embodies the opportunity to connect substantial research (scaling models, prediction of energy needs combined with fuel-cell performance) with innovative industrial practices (system development and engineering against actual configurations). Moreover, it has high social impact, thus opening the fuel-cell research and innovation world to sectors industry or disaster recovery.

Moreover, significant attention should be paid to improvements in the technical and economic performance of the FC products including stacks, BoP components and their manufacturing.

  • Reduction of CAPEX at a level of less than 6,000€/kW
  • Increase of system lifetime of more than 15 years and increase of maintenance interval
  • Improve of electrical efficiency of all possible applications in this topic in the range of 42-55% or CHP efficiency of more than 90%.

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.