Viessmann is restructuring both its fuel cell and biomethane divisions. Its newly founded holding company, Schmack BioEnergie, specializes in biogas with an increasing focus on biological methanation. As early as this year, Viessmann will start construction on the first commercial methanation unit in Switzerland.
On March 19, German heating manufacturer Viessmann, based in Allendorf, announced it would shut down Hexis, its subsidiary in charge of developing SOFCs. The headline of the press release sounded rather innocuous: “Viessmann takes new path to implementing future-proof technology.“ However, in the third paragraph, the company then said it “will discontinue operations at Hexis.“
Langweid am Lech is the first-ever place in Germany where residential fuel cells will meet all energy needs. Regional energy utility Erdgas Schwaben, based in Augsburg, has joined forces with developer Michael Dumberger and heating system supplier Viessmann to install Panasonic fuel cells in each of the 62 duplex and row houses under construction in a new residential zone.
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.
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.
Micro-organisms provide more flexibility than common catalysts, and the methane produced by them is relatively pure. Additionally, the investment costs for Power-to-Gas systems can be lowered by using transformers and power as well as gas network connections of already existing biogas and wastewater treatment plants. This field of study, however, still requires more research to be done, even for