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Advancing Europe's energy system: stationary fuel cells in distributed generation

2015

Europe's energy systems are profoundly changing, with renewable energy sources capturing ever larger shares of power generation and energy systems increasingly decentralizing. In this transformation, innovative technologies for distributed generation of electricity and heat are important enablers. Stationary fuel cells can take Europe's energy transition one step further, converting both fossil and green fuels to electricity and heat at high efficiencies – up to 60% electrical efficiency and more than 90% combined electrical and thermal efficiency.

In their study, "Advancing Europe's energy system: stationary fuel cells in distributed generation", the consultancy Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, a public private partnership between the European Commission, the fuel cells and hydrogen industry as well as research bodies and associations, explore the commercialization prospects for stationary fuel cells. Jointly authored by 35 industry stakeholders, the study presents the most far-reaching and comprehensive analysis of stationary fuel cells in Europe to date.

The European stationary fuel cell industry comprises a diverse portfolio of distributed generation solutions, most of which run on natural gas with flexibility for other fuels (including hydrogen in the future). They range from fuel cell micro-combined-heat-and-power (CHP) heating systems to MW-scale bespoke solutions for industrial applications. As Heiko Ammermann, Partner at Roland Berger points out, "The technology can capitalize on the vast existing natural gas infrastructure in Europe – hydrogen supply is not an obstacle."

The market for stationary fuel cells comprises three main segments: residential homes, commercial buildings and industrial applications. In each of them, there is a large addressable market, for example 2.5 million micro-CHP units per year in Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Poland altogether.

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