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Commercial-scale SOFC systems

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ComSos (Commercial-scale SOFC systems)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

Decentralized cogeneration is a key means to significantly improve the efficiency of energy production, especially for applications with a high temperature heat demand and limitations on electrical infrastructur. In this respect, fuel cell based CHP systems provide the best performance and customer value with electrical efficiencies from 50- 60% in the power classes of more than 10kW using the existing high quality, low-cost gas grid or biogas based renewable fuel sources.

Through this project, manufacturers prepare for developing capacity for serial manufacturing, sales and marketing of mid FC CHP products. All manufacturers will validate new product segments in collaboration with the respective customers and confirm product performance, the business case and size, and test in real life the distribution channel including maintenance and service. In function of the specific segments, the system will be suitable for volumes from few 10’s to several 1,000 systems per year. These systems are designed to readily step-up to 100’s or over 1,000 systems per year respectively, which is the level identified by the FCH JU Distributed Generation study as creating the unit cost required for commercial take-off. This is, combined with further technological development of the systems and value engineering in stack manufacturing, such that the 2020/21 systems which will be developed based on learnings gained in the ComSos project will have the price point and cost/volume dynamics ready for commercialization.

The overall objectives of the ComSos project are follwing:
• Demonstrate and validate Mini FC-CHP
• EU worldwide leadership in Mini FC-CHP market
• Lever uCHP volumes and cost reductions in additional FC applications
• Confirm investment opportunity for additional jobs creation for Mini FC-CHP

The specific key objective of the ComSos project is to validate and demonstrate fuel cell based combined heat and power solutions in the mid-sized power range (referred to as Mini FC-CHP). The outcome gives proof of the superior advantages of such systems, underlying business models, and key benefits for the customer. The technology and product concepts have been developed in Europe under supporting European frameworks such as the FCH-JU. The overall target amount of installations is 23 units with a total power output of at least 450 kW, distributed as follows: Convion, 2 units of 60kWe each (total 120 kWe), Sunfire, 6 units of 25kWe each (total 150 kWe) and SOLIDpower, 15 units of 12kWe each (total 180kWe).
Project consortium has done a good job so far and work performed and results achieved during the first periodic reporting are very well in line with grant agreement.

WP1 one ensures that project progress and results are achieved in accordance with the description of action. Coordinator (VTT) is the responsible body but work includes contributions from all partners.

In WP2 the system design and review phase, prototype concepts from earlier projects were challenged against the identified requirements in market assessments and characteristics of interesting markets. The partners defined relevant specifications and interfaces of their systems depending on their targeted application. In addition, the cost drivers and the potential for reduction were identified with a design-to-cost approach that is a first step in the development of a cost reduction roadmap to marketable prices.

In WP3 the work focusing on the definition of the commercial conditions and the technical boundaries between the system providers and the customers. Most of the customer sites have been identified, and the necessary re-design of the systems to comply with the site requirements is under-way.

In WP4 tools for collect data from demonstration units and monitor their performance were identified. In addition the description of the performance data made available through the public website has been discussed between the partners and common agreement on the issue was achieved.

In WP5 dissemination and exploitation plan was created. In addition the activity on techno-economic models development has been completed.

Three major project achievements to date are following:
* The first ComSos SOFC module, provided by Sunfire GmbH, has been installed in Taiwan
* Business case analysis for the 10-50 kW systems has been made
* The first ComSos systems has reached efficiency and emission targets (KPIs)
The ComSos project aims at strengthening the European SOFC industry’s world-leading position for SOFC products in the range of 10-60 kW. Based on the positive dynamics generated through the FCH micro-CHP (μCHP) demonstration projects ene.field and PACE along with the German KfW433 program, there is the opportunity to establish a market in this yet underexploited segment. By installing manufacturing processes which are capable of reliable serial production of mid FC CHP appliances, and demonstrating that they can produce products that achieve the required longevity in the field, the ComSos project will de-risk future investments in the final manufacturing scale-up to commercial volume (>10,000 units/year for 12 kW, >100 units/year for 50 kW). This in turn will enable cost reductions required to allow mid FC CHP to compete against alternative ICE based cogeneration appliances in the regular market, whilst allowing profitable manufacturing for the suppliers. The reduced emissions of mid FC CHP clearly allow an expansion of the market in electricity constrained areas such as city centers.

The environmental benefits of a shift to fuel cell mid FC CHP derive from a reduction in overall primary energy use of circa 25% as compared to a conventional boiler and electrical grid mix option. In the short term, with the current grid mix, a comparable CO2 emission reduction is expected. With their high efficiency, fuel cells in distributed generation can yield substantial CO2 savings in the building sector and various industrial applications – especially when building on the natural gas infrastructure in the transition period towards a carbon-free European power mix and even beyond given the zero-emission potential of the fuel cell technology. The direct environmental impacts expected from the project, based on a deployment of 23 units (450 kWe) will be an emissions reduction of well over 1,300 tCO2/year. As the overall electrical grid mix decarbonizes in Europe due to additional renewable and energy generation efficiency measures, the overall CO2 emissions avoided from a mid FC CHP unit will decrease without a concurrent “greening” of the natural gas grid. A number of sources have emerged in recent years from biogas to gas derived from power to gas projects, which have the potential to secure the long term decarbonization of gas grids across Europe and hence ensure that mid FC CHP is more than simply a transition technology and that it will have a role in the long term future of a European energy system. Stationary fuel cells can nearly fully eliminate local emissions of pollutants like NOx and SOx as well as particulates – a particular advantage for urban population centres where local emissions tend to become a drain on the standard of living and governments are already putting regulatory limits in place. Moreover, stationary fuel cells emit exceptionally little noise.