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Robust and Remote Power Supply

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RoRePower (Robust and Remote Power Supply)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-03-31

Fuel cells can play a major role in the energy market as a clean, highly efficient way to produce energy in decentralized power generation. Reliable fuel cell systems for continuous, off-grid energy supply open very promising export markets for the European fuel cell industry. The applications for this kind of fuel cell technology are characterized by key requirements such as low maintenance, long service life of components, capability of remote monitoring and reliable operation in critical applications like oil, gas or safety infrastructure. In addition, they are able to cope with harsh climate conditions both in cold and hot regions. The RoRePower project consortium participants are from 4 European countries, all of which are the Member States of the European Union or Associated Members. Project coordinator VTT is the member of Hydrogen Europe Research. Sunfire GmbH, SolidPower and New Enerday are members of the Hydrogen Europe, so there is a very strong participation of members of The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking in this proposal. European Fuel Cell Forum is not a member of the Hydrogen Europe but active in the field of fuel cells and hydrogen and especially in dissemination. This consortium has all necessary expertise to carry out successfully this RoRePower project.The overall objective of this project is to further develop and demonstrate solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems for off-grid power generation in markets, such as the gas and oil infrastructure in remote regions with harsh climate conditions (from -40 to +50°C), and the power supply of telecommunication towers especially in emerging countries (e.g. telecom base stations or microwave transceivers).

The project will develop and demonstrate the reliable operation of two different off-grid, remote power systems from three different manufacturers. The requirements of the generators are:

• Start-up and operation at -40°C to +50°C ambient temperature for natural gas
• High electrical efficiency (> 35%)
• Long term validation and demonstration in relevant environment to gain reliable data from field (> 24 months)
• High availability (98.5 %)
• Service and maintenance concept defined (Maintenance frequency 15 months)
• Meet the regionally different normative requirements with a modular design
• Increase the reproducibility of production stages of fuel cell systems in large quantities (> 90%)
• Training course for less educative personnel (two courses from each manufacturer)
• Service contract concept created for end-customer (one concept per manufacturer)
The RoRePower project aims at strengthening the European SOFC industry’s world-leading position for SOFC technology and exploit it in the robust remote power segment. RoRePower project has contributed to the expected impacts by acting many ways:

• The critical aspects related to the remote operation and extreme operating temperature have been considered. Common solution able to extend the regular operation of the actual commercial product have been identified. This work permitted to narrow down the number of suppliers, and it will permit to the manufacturer to reduce the time of development and to decrease the components cost in future due to economies of scale.
• For strengthening the European value chain, industrial partners agreed on shared BOP components and performed an intensive market research for specific parts as well as shared BoP components for the extended climate requirements.
• To introduce SOFC technology to niche market, industrial partners have focused on the intensification of contacts with existing customers and the acquisition of new end users and use cases.
• For increasing trust of new customer by demonstrating technology in relevant field environment, RoRePower project has installed Sunfire-Remote 400 in a telecom application in Alaska in November 2019.
• Providing improved energy efficient product compared to the incumbent technologies, the Sunfire-Remote 900 prototype could demonstrate an electrical efficiency of > 35 % and the smaller Sunfire-Remote 400 of more than 33 %.
• Product specific installation and integration trainings for Sunfire-Remote Integration were held with partners in Canada, the UK and the Netherlands

The RoRePower opened website (www.RoRePower.com) is the tool for dissemination and exploitation.
The RoRePower project will help transforming the production of off-grid and remote SOFC power generators from prototype to serial production; reduce costs, improve maintainability and reparability of the products. Therefore, it will increase the competitiveness of the European fuel cell industry and strengthen the European supply chain.

At least 47 robust and remote SOFC power generators of various size with a total capacity of more than 23 kWe will be installed and they will be operated for more than 24 months.
• Sunfire Fuel cells: ca. 40 units @ 0,35 and - 0,85 kWe
• SOLIDPower: ca. 7 units @ 0,7 - 4,2 kWe

The field demonstrations during the project will help acquiring relevant long-term track record and data for reliability, service and maintenance in order to provide an accurate and bankable business-case for the local distributor. In comparison with the state of the art level 1) a significant reduction of TCO (-40%) will be achieved by cost reduction of BOP component, stack and its periphery. Also the common supply chain and joint procurement for system manufacturer in the case of generic component and spare parts will decrease the TCO remarkable amount, 2) harmful emissions (CO2, SOx, NOx, particulate matter), noise, vibrations and the risk of soil contamination by liquid fuels are reduced and 3) higher power supply security will be reached.

The expectation of the RoRePower consortium is a potential market of several hundred units per year in the oil and gas market and several thousand in the telecom sector. There are approximately 30 000 off-grid telecom towers worldwide and most of them are powered with diesel generators, which have to be replaced every 4 to 7 years. During the RoRePower project SOFC systems will be delivered to both the oil/gas and telecommunication sectors. The fuel cells provide increased electrical efficiency in those markets compared to the incumbent technologies. Fuel cells with higher electrical efficiency also offer reduced maintenance requirements. The overall total cost of electricity will be decreased with the RoRePower products already at relatively modest product volumes. In addition, with respect to the thermoelectric generators, an 80% CO2 emission decrease is expected. With respect to Diesel combustion engines, the change from Diesel to natural gas or LPG on its own provides a CO2 reduction 70% in the power range of the project (2 kWe). Compared to conventional diesel generators, the fuel cell systems have much less NOx, CO and particle emissions, which increases the wellbeing of e.g. people working around them.
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