Europe’s fuel cell micro-CHP industry received a major boost in Brussels last week (9 September) with the announcement that more than a quarter of the total number of units to be installed under the EU’s ene.field project are already in people’s homes across eight member states. Utility survey results to be published shortly indicate that Europe will only reap the energy and climate benefits of this fuel cell product with a successful commercial roll-out.
The ene.field project – co-funded by industry and the European Commission’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU) – will place up to 1,000 fuel cell micro-CHPs into homes across eleven European countries. The project (which runs from 2012-2017, featuring 26 partners from across the heating and energy industry and €26 million EU funding) is Europe’s largest deployment of this modern energy product to date and allows manufacturers to begin to reduce costs due to the volume of units involved. Installation rates among the most active project partners have taken off in the last six months after progress in ene.field’s early stages had proved slower than expected.
At last week’s gathering the project partners heard for the first time the findings of an upcoming ene.field briefing on smart grid capabilities. The survey results of utility partners give the clear message that they believe fuel cell micro-CHP has an important role to play in supporting a high renewables generation mix on the European electricity network.
Moreover all partners stress – based on market analysis and industry experience – that costs will fall as volume increases. Ene.field is a crucial first step in increasing volume across Europe, demonstrating both technical improvements and cost reductions for micro-CHP. The partners emphasise that the project will not only deliver cost and technical improvements but is actively breaking down barriers which must be removed if market uptake of micro-CHP products is to increase and if volume roll out initiatives are to prove successful.