Why fuel cells may finally make grid divorce a reality
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: A long-time reader wrote in to give me a heads up on the very real progress being made on fuel cell-powered micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP). Companies such as Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited, Hexis Technology and Baxi are making small devices that create power plus hot water. He thinks we're close to the day when homes and small businesses can combine micro-CHP with solar PV with energy storage and be off the grid forever.
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Sales of fuel cell micro-CHP have overtaken those of conventional micro-CHP worldwide. The strongest sales are in Japan. However, one emerging application in the UK may be applicable around the world.
Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (CFCL) is targeting the market for social housing, shared accommodation, schools and small businesses for its BlueGen 1.5 kW solid oxide fuel cell. The economics make the most sense when customers can use all of the electricity produced behind the meter - therefore, the company is targeting buildings where the electrical demand is higher than that found in a single occupancy dwellings.
The company has even made arrangements with financing companies to install units in apartment buildings for free. Payments combine selling excess electricity back to the grid in return for the United Kingdom's favorable feed-in tariff.