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Large scale demonstration of commercial fuel cells in the power range of 100-400kW in different market applications

The goal of this topic is to provide an overarching connection in the energy landscape, based on integration of available FCH technologies for distributed power production in the evolving grid infrastructure. The project shall explicitly strengthen the European value chain for critical components such as fuel cell stack, power electronics in connection with fuel cells and remote control.

This demonstration in 100-400 kW power range will make fuel cell based distributed power production more visible in the European countries. It demonstrates that several European manufacturers of FC systems in the 100-400 kW power range 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 support the performance and technical viability of fuel cell systems implemented in various sites in Europe. Such decentralized base load power generation systems will be implemented while respecting the European industrial requirements of related applications in commercial sector: CHP in commercial buildings, industries, hospitals, airports; grid support for offering balancing services for safe operation of electricity system as alternative to conventional power plants, in pilot plant configuration.

This project includes fuel cell systems in the power range of 100-400kW with a total installed capacity of at least 1MW. Such numbers will allow progress on standardisation, cost reduction and will address different requirements and applications to compare solutions coming from different European industries. The project also helps to increase the public awareness of fuel cell systems as a valuable alternative compared to conventional systems across Europe.

The project can address one or several customer segments. The FC system applications will be demonstrated at minimum 3 different sites in three different European countries in order to contribute to introduction of the FC technology across Europe. The project demonstrates solutions from minimum 3 different manufacturers of FC products in order to demonstrate the technological capabilities and to cooperate on mutual challenges such as standardisation and communication. 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.

Heat and/or cooling from the CHP should also be utilized where possible to drive up the overall energy efficiency.

Project proposals should prove the readiness of fuel cell solutions for CHP applications and the possibility to roll out the fuel cell technology in that large market segment for power supply solutions, also considering eco-efficiency principles for value added and the applicability to grid support.

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.
  • Development of scaling models, prediction of energy needs combined with fuel-cell performance including demand side management (DSM) for dispersed energy production system including FC systems and supporting the increased share of RES
  • 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.
  • 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

TRL at start: 6

TRL at end: 7-8

The consortium should include at least three fuel cell manufacturers providing each a minimum of 100kW and additionally relevant customers from the commercial and or industrial sector. Research institutions and academic groups could be also included. The total installed power should be at least 1MW.

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 electrical demand in the European countries is estimated to increase to be three times the level of the year 2000 by 2020. Utility companies are facing already increasing difficulties to accommodate escalating power demands and fluctuating loads from renewable electricity sources.

The main challenges to be addressed are:

  • The need for distributed power production for commercial and industrial applications for base load and redundant energy supply and as a supporting alternative to conventional central power plants.
  • Need for high energy efficiency and reduction of emissions, because the alternative power supply for these applications is mostly emitting high amount of CO2, noise and other emission
  • The need for flexible power solutions supporting the further integration of renewable energy in the energy system
  • Increase of energy efficiency and power security

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.”

The key markets are base load operations, also in CHP configuration, for data centres, commercial buildings, industries, logistics and security networks that need to improve energy efficiency and power security, and grid support.

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 industrial and utilities.

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%.
  • The fuel cell systems should demonstrate smart grid operation – modulating power output; sales to grid at peak prices and reduction of power output at lower grid prices.
  • The fuel cell systems should demonstrate heat and/or cooling utilization to drive up overall efficiency of the systems, modulating heat/power output

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. It should also confirm the readiness of the technology in the CHP market or to adjust power generation in response to grid signals from a Smart Grid and thereby provide improved stability to the grid.