Micro-cogeneration using fuel cells (also known as Fuel Cell micro-CHP) represents a reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy solution for homes and businesses, as confirmed by the results of PACE – a flagship European project supported by the EU’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership. Fuel cells, recognised by the European Commission as a strategic Net Zero technology, are ready to enable the energy transition, empower consumers and boost Europe’s competitiveness.
PHOTO (top of page): Senior executives from BDR Thermea, Sunfire, SolydEra, Viessmann and Bosch took part in a panel discussion, moderated by Kelvin Ross, at the PACE Conference in Brussels on 26 April 2023
Brussels, 27 April 2023
The benefits of fuel cell micro-CHP1 were highlighted at a European Conference in Brussels on Wednesday (26 April 2023), which was attended by representatives from the energy and heating industry, the European Commission and the EU’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership. The conference, entitled What Role for Fuel Cell micro-CHP in Europe’s Future Energy System?, provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the achievements of PACE2 – a €90 million public-private project coordinated by COGEN Europe and supported by the EU’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership3.
PHOTO: Mirela Atanasiu (Head of Unit – Operations and Communications) represented the EU’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership and spoke during the opening session of the PACE Conference in Brussels on 26 April 2023
The PACE project, which started in June 2016 and officially ends on 30 April 2023, has installed more than 2600 fuel cell micro-CHP systems in residential buildings and business premises spread across 9 European countries, demonstrating the market and consumer readiness of this technology in Europe. Coordinated by COGEN Europe, PACE has brought together several major European manufacturers such as BDR Thermea, Bosch, SolydEra, Sunfire and Viessmann, as well as research partners4.
The results of the PACE project confirm that fuel cell micro-CHP is a highly reliable, efficient and convenient energy solution for homes and businesses. A survey of more than 1700 end-users carried out in the framework of PACE found that there was a high level of satisfaction with the technology. Moreover, data analysis, shows that overall energy costs for buildings with fuel cell micro-CHP systems can be significantly lower than those of similar buildings without fuel cell units.
Thanks in large part to the impetus created by PACE project (and its predecessor – the ene.field project, which ran from 2012 until 2016), European industry has invested more than €200 million in the development and manufacturing of fuel cell technology for stationary applications, thereby expanding the EU’s manufacturing capacity by as much as 400%. Additionally, more than 3400 installers have received training in how to install and maintain fuel cell micro-CHP systems.
Addressing the closing session of the PACE Conference in Brussels on 26 April, Hans Korteweg, Managing Director of COGEN Europe, said: “Following the successful completion of the PACE project, we can confidently say that fuel cell micro-CHP is market-ready, consumer-friendly and represents a key efficiency, decarbonisation and energy resiliency solution for Europe.”
PHOTO: Hans Korteweg, Managing Director of COGEN Europe, delivered his concluding remarks at the end of the PACE Conference in Brussels on 26 April 2023
“The PACE project has proved that European industry is committed to bring a range of different fuel cell micro-CHP systems to the mass market, empowering consumers and catering to their needs,“ continued Mr Korteweg. “PACE is an excellent example of European net-zero industry leadership! The participating manufacturers have demonstrated their commitment to scaling up a strategic technology, despite facing challenges in relation to the supply chain, as well as regulatory, market and unfortunately also policy barriers.“
“We look forward to the momentum gained during the PACE project being continued, ensuring that production capacity is further scaled up in Europe so that fuel cell micro-CHP systems will be available as a mass market product in the years to come. The technology is ready! It offers significant benefits for consumers, as well as for the environment and the EU’s competitiveness. However, it also needs strong political support and a favourable policy and regulatory framework.“
“Fuel cells and micro-CHP technologies are recognised in the EU Taxonomy and in the proposed Net Zero Industry Act as strategic solutions for delivering on the EU’s climate and energy ambitions. This needs to be backed up by effective policies at both European and national levels!“
Mr Korteweg called on European politicians and policy makers to:
- Support the uptake of market-ready solutions that can quickly deliver reductions in carbon dioxide emissions;
- Embrace ‘energy system thinking’ to better account for the complexities entailed by the energy transition;
- Take a technology-inclusive approach, fostering all decarbonisation solutions, as well as synergies of clean solutions;
- Support European industry to further develop net-zero solutions, strengthen local supply chains and offer a range of clean technologies to consumers.
For more information about the PACE project and Fuel Cell micro-CHP see Energy Efficiency at Your Fingertips (PDF).
1. Micro-CHP stands for ‘micro combined heat and power’, which is also known as micro-cogeneration. This term describes systems that generate both electricity and heat using a single energy source. According to the definition laid down in the EU Directive on energy efficiency (2012/27/EU), a ‘micro-cogeneration unit’ is a cogeneration unit with a maximum electrical output of less than 50 kW.
2. PACE stands for ‘Pathway to a Competitive European Fuel Cell micro-CHP Market’.
3. The PACE project has been allocated € 33 932 753 of funding from the Clean Hydrogen Partnership (previously known as the ‘Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking’) under grant agreement No 700339. The Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.
4. The partners of the PACE Project include: COGEN Europe (European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration), BDR Thermea Group, Bosch, SolydEra (previously known as SOLIDpower), Sunfire, Viessmann, DTU (Technical University of Denmark), Element Energy (part of the ERM Group), and the Institute of Innovation and Technology Management at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU).