|  17.07.2015

Fuel cells are on the road to commercialization in Europe also for stationary applications

Major market potential, significant environmental benefits

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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 context, innovative technologies for cogeneration of electricity and heat are important enablers. Stationary fuel cells can take Europe's energy transition one step further, converting both fossil and alternative fuels to electricity and heat at high efficiencies – up to 60% electrical efficiency and more than 90% combined electrical and thermal efficiency.

In the recently published 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 of the technology. Jointly authored by 35 industry stakeholders, both private and public, the study presents the most far-reaching and comprehensive analysis of stationary fuel cells in Europe to date.


Three markets segments – three levels of technological readiness
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 Codrut Pascu, Partner at Roland Berger points out, "The technology can capitalize on the vast existing natural gas infrastructure in Europe – consequently, hydrogen supply will not represent an obstacle."
The market for stationary fuel cells comprises three main segments: residential homes, commercial buildings and industrial applications. In each of these segments there is a large addressable market. For example, potential market for micro-CHP can reach 2.5 million units per year in Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Poland altogether.
However, technological market readiness significantly differs by segment. Micro-CHP systems are broadly ready for commercial market introduction, whereas CHP solutions for commercial buildings are just entering the demonstration project stage. Some industrial applications display also advanced technological state.
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