The benefits of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration

1. Empowering consumers

The deployment of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration will help transform Europeans from energy consumers to energy ‘prosumers’ (producer-consumers), putting them at the core of the future decentralised energy system. They will have the chance to produce their own heat and electricity at home, while allowing them to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration reduces carbon footprint, cuts energy bills, and protect consumers against rising energy costs.

“With the fuel cell micro-CHP system, I was able to cover 72% of my electricity use by producing power myself. Compared to before, I save around €1,000 a year”

Mr. Boel, Hamburg

How micro-CHP can reduce energy bills: an example of an average house in Germany or the Netherlands

In a home of average energy use in Germany or the Netherlands, fuel bill savings of between 26% and 34% are acheiveable in 2015 and 2020 by using a micro-CHP.

Savings could be higher in homes with higher energy use. There are over 8.5 million of these “above average” houses in Germany and the Netherlands, and many more throughout the rest of Europe. They are typically single or multi-family homes.

Base case Micro-CHP example
Gas boiler + electricity
Wall-hung engine
% reduction compared to
base case
2015: € 2,154  € 1,588 26%
2020: € 2,405 € 1,760 27%

Calculations assume 100% on-site use of electricity generated, or where generation exceeds use an export tariff of 9c€ / kWh. Calculations asume a home which requires 17,500 kWh of energy a year for heating and hot water, and 3,500 kWh a year of electricity. Wall-hung engine micro-CHP and floor standing fuel all micro-CHP assured to have electrical efficiencies of 14% and 35% respectively.

2. Supporting the decarbonisation of energy

A highly energy efficient technology…

Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration is a highly efficient way of using gas for heating and powering millions of Europe’s homes and businesses. They use the same fuel and the same connections (gas supply, electricity connection and water supply) as gas boilers or electricity power devices and are therefore a perfect fit to replace them.

Comparison of a centralised and decentralised supply of electricity and heat

Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration can achieve significant primary energy savings and CO2 emission reduction compared to incumbent technologies. Any further increase in the electrical and overall efficiency of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration, coupled with the decarbonisation of gas supply will result in even more CO2 savings.

Graph CO2

Driving the transition to low carbon energy sources and renewables…

The majority of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration products sold or in development are designed to use natural gas as a fuel. However, micro-Cogeneration units can be “fuel flexible”: so it can be designed to run on renewable or low carbon fuels, including hydrogen, biomass, biogas, waste heat, and even solar energy.

In addition, because of the way Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration uses gas and typically generates electricity at times of peak power demand or capacity shortages, it can “step in” when the intermittent renewables – wind and solar power for instance – are not generating.

3. Providing greater flexibility for the grid

By generating heat and power at times of peak demand, Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration can significantly improve the stability of the grid and strengthen its resilience. Used as a form of demand response option, it can offer a number of options:

  • Send electricity back to the grid when needed at a grid level but when it’s not needed on-site.
  • Use the electricity it generates on-site when there is local demand.
  • Can be enabled though energy storage (a heat buffer or even a hot water tank) for use later on-site when not needed at grid level.

As an enabler of other low carbon technologies, Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration can also support the take up of electric heat pumps and electric vehicles by relieving the stresses on distribution networks created when they are widely deployed. In addition, FC micro-CHP units can also be aggregated as a virtual power plant, which can be dispatched when intermittent renewable energy are not generating.

4. Fostering innovation and high value jobs

The move to mass commercialisation of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration will enable the European workforce to develop new and high value skills, while building on the existing expertise of employees in Europe’s heating industry.

The development of new markets for micro-Cogeneration is an important source of innovation within the heating industry and is crucial to its continuous evolution and success. Nurturing a European Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration industry leads to new and high value jobs that contribute to Europe’s economic growth and prosperity.