“Through the first six weeks of this year alone, we received more requests than during all of 2015,” Andreas Frömmel from German FuelCell Energy Solutions reported during the E-world 2016. That should come as no surprise: Large-scale fuel cell plants have gained in popularity ever since the German parliament amended the CHP Act at the end of last year and put the transition rules on paper (see New Rule for Fuel Cell Heating Systems). Plants ordered until the end of 2016 and built by the end of 2017 can still receive the full CHP benefits as per the CHP Act from 2012 – independently of their power output. This section of the law will benefit even megawatt-size power plants.
The biggest fuel cell module of the Dresden-based company costs EUR 1,500 per kilowatt of installed capacity. “This will make it possible to produce power below 10 cents per kilowatt-hour,” Frömmel, who is in charge of business development at FCES, said. Put into perspective: Production costs are at around a tenth of what owners of residential fuel cell heating systems have to pay per kilowatt-hour (see Fuel Cell Manufacturers Target Installers).
A fuel cell plant of about 1.4 MW capacity is scheduled to go online in mid-2016. It will be the biggest of its kind in Europe, according to the manufacturer. The new power plant is a project of E.ON subsidiary Connecting Energies and will be set up in Mannheim at Friatec, a manufacturer of corrosion-resistant materials. The fuel cell for the construction project will be supplied by FCES. The power plant is expected to provide 11.2 GWh of electricity as well as around 6,000 MWh of heat from natural gas for in-house use. This will cover around 46% of the location‘s total electricity demand. The electrical efficiency is at 47%.
These kinds of power plants could be operated under leasing, contracting and power purchase agreements (PPAs), Frömmel explained. He added: “The business model puts the technological risks squarely on our shoulders.” The US parent company has been managing around 110 plants worldwide, of which four are located in Europe and one in Germany. That will now change.
Author: Nils Hendrik Petersen