Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

This innovation activity will focus on demonstrating the technical and commercial feasibility of sub-MW stationary FC’s directly fuelled by biogas produced from bio-waste treatment processes, aiming at full process integration of heat use in the digester process or the digestate treatment. In this way confidence shall be established for the further application of FC systems for the exploitation of this resource, which could radically leverage the deployment of stationary FC across Europe, allowing the achievement of further reductions in product cost and development of the value chain.

Core features of the FC such as efficiency, cost, emissions, durability and lifetime must comply with relevant MAWP targets and the global competition; these values have been compiled on the expected impact chapter.

The projects will target primarily demonstration of a sub-MW FC solution in the biogas/-waste market segment addressing the following:

  • Between 100 kW and 1 MW capacity production of power and heat from bio gas, provided by bio waste treatment processes
  • Full, steady-state process integration of the FC system with the biogas producing process, in terms of power requirements and heat management
  • Raw biogas processing and upgrading for durable conversion in the FC stack including the needed clean-up and detection equipment

The scope or the technology should have a clear difference or a clear progress relative to the wastewater project of the AWP2014-2.11.

The project should aim at creating partnerships between end users, industry, local SMEs, financiers and local authorities, in order to ensure that the solutions are replicated and can be financed through various sources. Therefore the project should:

  • Validate real demonstration units in representative applications in order to enable suppliers, various stake holders and end users to gain experience throughout the value chain
  • Assess the technical opportunities and bottle-necks across the sector of biogas producing facilities for an accurate mapping of feasibility of the FC integrated system in Europe
  • Develop and reinforce business plan and service strategy during the project that will be replicable and validated in the chosen market segment after the project

It is a key goal to have the same drivers as those for FCH technologies (reduction of GHG emissions, energy security, distributed generation, local emissions reduction) generated a firm foothold in the societal landscape as well as in the portfolio of investors. Commercial success of FC’s and increasing numbers in the field of distributed generation is needed in order to leverage the awareness and deployment of stationary fuel cell systems. Organic waste processing plants producing methane-rich biogas are highly successful examples of enterprise in the renewable energy sector. Furthermore, of the worldwide biogas plants operational in 2012 (just over 13,000 excluding landfill sites), more than 12,500 are situated in Europe[IEA Bioenergy: “Biomethane – status and factors affecting market development and trade” (2014), On the contrary, stationary FC power exploiting this resource coming from wastewater is currently situated almost exclusively in California, US. The fact that such installations are operating well and continuously growing in number proves the feasibility of the concept and outlines a clear opportunity for Europe in particular.

Indeed, direct conversion of biogas from organic waste to end-use power and heat, rather than intermediate upgrading to methane, maximizes round-trip efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the waste-to-energy chain. The aim is to develop fully integrated solutions for bio waste to power. To jump-start the commercial exploitation of these integrated plants, the industry needs dedicated demonstrations with selected promising suppliers/technologies [Advancing Europe's energy systems: Stationary fuel cells in distributed generation: A study for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, Roland Berger, March 2015].

This should allow to pick up on the growing need for an deployment of efficient organic waste treatment plants, which already provide attractive value propositions in the framework of European legislation.

This demonstration must not only raise public awareness; it should be used to establish confidence in technology, business models and market readiness with key customers in the food, waste management or other industry accessing biogas from biowaste. The project could be advanced with market enablers (such as utilities, leading project developers in construction and energy business) to achieve volume contracts and with financiers to assure access to project financing.

The project should focus on the following impacts:

  • Supplier and user experience of installation/commissioning, operation and use of power generation in the bio-waste sector, also relative to tailored biogas cleaning
  • Clear awareness among the current investors in biogas producing plants of the added value of FC integration
  • Demonstrate a viable solution and a replicable business case

and possibly address in addition to that also:

  • Validated references to build trust among the stakeholders
  • Active participation of consumers in order to bring the fuel cells technology closer to their daily business
  • Reduction of the CO2 emissions with respect to the national grid by > 10%
  • Reduction of the use of primary energy by
    • Electrical efficiency > 45%
    • Total efficiency > 70% (heat cycle: 45°C/30°C, LHV)
  • Reduction of the FC-system CAPEX (no transport, installation, project management, no heat use and biogas clean-up equipment) towards 3,000 – 3,500 €/kW for systems near 1 MW and towards 6,000-6,500 €/kW for systems near 100 kW
  • Reduction of the maintenance costs (full service including stack replacement) of the FC-system (without heat use and biogas clean-up equipment) towards < 0.035 €/kWh (near 1 MW) and towards < 0.050 €/kWh (near 100 kW)

Increase the fuel cell system lifetime towards 20 years of operation (stack replacement included, as referred on the cost reduction goals). It is envisaged that the proposals will also bring societal benefits such as:

  • Improved round-trip efficiency and sustainability of processing organic waste streams
  • Economic growth and new jobs at the local level, including supply-chain jobs
  • Great basis for further growth of the industry providing FC systems tailored to the rapidly growing sector of biogas producing plants
  • Energy security and improved reliability

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

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