A German analysis was published in October that examines the potential ecological and economic benefits of small fuel cell combined heat and power (CHP) generation systems under 10 kWe. The study – which was commissioned by the Fuel Cell Initiative and the Fuel Cells Working Group of the VDMA (a German engineering association) and conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (IFEU) – devised two scenarios, a “very moderate” scenario with a just few thousand fuel cell CHP units, and a “dynamic scenario” with widespread use of fuel cell CHP (tens of thousands of units), and compared these to a baseline scenario with no fuel cell CHP units.
Among other findings, the analysis indicates that:
For a partly renovated single family home, and calculated on the basis of the German energy mix in 2020, the fuel cell CHP systems save between 21% to more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to a condensing boiler.
In the dynamic (large-scale deployment) scenario, for all of Germany, the use of fuel cell CHP results in annual greenhouse gas emission savings of 1.5 million tonnes, and 22 million tonnes over the life cycle of the fuel cell unit.
Also in the dynamic scenario, fuel cell CHP in a partly renovated single family home was found to be cost-competitive, in terms of the future cost of energy, to a scenario evaluating the costs of a gas condensing boiler and solar energy.
In addition, both fuel cell CHP scenarios show a greater economic impact to Germany over the reference scenario (no fuel cells) – with an estimated added economic value of 0.4 billion euro and 3,000 workers in the “very moderate” scenario, and 2.5 billion euro and 18,000 workers the “dynamic scenario.”