While SOLIDpower’s core business is the supply of energy to residential and commercial buildings, it has recently branched out into IT. As a German-Italian manufacturer of high-temperature fuel cells, it will now provide units to businesses that need to keep servers running. The most well-known partner it has signed a cooperation agreement with is Microsoft.
Although numerous critics had hardly thought it possible anymore because of years-long delays, fuel cell heating systems have entered the market. Several manufacturers of heating appliances have added power and heat units running on natural gas to their portfolio. One of them is Thermondo, a young heating installation company operating across Germany, which has been offering condensing boilers since last year.
On Aug. 1, 2016, the heating industry got the certainty they wanted with regard to the future policy framework for state-of-the-art fuel cell heating systems: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced two new subsidy programs, one providing an investment grant for fuel cell heating systems and one for optimizing heating technology by replacing old pumps. Both financial measures are part of the Incentive Program Energy Efficiency (APEE)
Around 40% of the final energy in Germany is consumed by the building sector. About 85% of it is used for heating and hot water preparation. However, many heating boilers both in the private and public sector are outdated. Installing an efficient fuel cell heating system could save a great deal of energy and reduce CO2 emissions.
The EU has decided to continue subsidizing fuel cell heating systems. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) announced that on June 1, 2016, the European Union launched the PACE project (Pathway to a Competitive European FC mCHP market) with incentives worth EUR 34 million. Its aim is to have more than 2,650 micro-CHP systems installed at non-field test customers by February 2021 to support market ramp-up. At the same time, a monitoring project should provide the feedback needed to enhance any further developments.