Fuel cell based power generation has a valuable business case for off-grid power generation in certain special markets such as powering the gas and oil infrastructure in remote regions with harsh climate conditions (-40 to +50 °C) and the continuous power supplies of telecommunication equipment (e.g. telecom base stations). This market is dominated by diesel generators today in accessible regions and by thermoelectric generators with very low efficiency in very remote areas. Both of these solutions have high environmental impact. Fuel cell based systems due to their higher efficiency and low maintenance requirements can offer significant primary energy and carbon savings and can significantly lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the end user as well as offering. These application areas provide very promising export markets for the European fuel cell industry.
Several European fuel cell companies are already addressing this market with solutions for niche applications in low volume. In order to enter high volume applications (i.e. the rapidly growing telecom sector in several emerging markets) further cost reductions are needed on both of stack and the specific Balance of Plant components.
Applications in remote areas are characterized by other key requirements: low maintenance, long service life of components, capability of remote monitoring and reliable operation in critical applications like oil and gas or safety infrastructure both in cold and in hot regions. Besides typical fuel cell components like stacks and reformers also several balance of plant (BOP) components such as electronic equipment, blowers, gas metering, sensors have to be specifically designed. They need to match the needs of reliable and rugged long term performance in order to provide long lasting, low maintenance products for remote applications. This provides an opportunity of a joint supply of the specific Balance of Plant components for remote operation by the European system manufacturers. This can increase the volume of such low-volume specialised items (tolerance to wide operating temperatures, high humidity).
Although first products have touched the market in prototype and pre-series state, currently the lack of long-term track records together with the high CAPEX, due to high cost of stacks and certain critical BOP equipment (i.e. power electronics, electronics suitable for low temperatures) provide a barrier for a large scale roll-out of fuel cell based power generators.
The project should develop and demonstrate the next generation system products in gas and oil infrastructures in remote regions (monitoring and communication, control of block and gate valves, corrosion protection, etc.) and possibly the telecommunication towers power supply that grows fast in emerging countries. Both applications have a typical power need in the range of 0.5 to 5 kW under harsh climate conditions.
The manufacturers’ solutions should provide products meeting all relevant requirements for remote power generation in potentially harsh climate conditions and develop technological strategies in order to close the gap between prototypes and pre-series manufacturing to a commodity.
Applicants should demonstrate firm commitment from end-users, through conditional orders or direct participation in the consortium during the application phase. In addition, projects should involve all relevant parties from the end user side such as gas and oil companies, telecommunication tower operators, telecommunication companies, fuel cell manufacturers and ideally suppliers of critical Balance of Plant components.
Applicants should also focus on the following targets.
The above-mentioned targets should be validated and demonstrated in a field test of pipeline and telecommunication applications by at least 3 stack manufacturers or fuel cell integrators with at least total 15 units in the power range of 0.5 to 5 kWe. Applicants should demonstrate a total sum of system electrical power capacity of at least 15 kW.
TRL at start: 5 and TRL at end: 7.
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox JRC-PTT-H2SAFETY@ec.europa.eu, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD.
Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B "Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2018"), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.
International collaboration with countries under International Partnership of Hydrogen into the Economy (IPHE) is specifically encouraged for this topic.
The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 3 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.
A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.
Expected duration: 4 years.
Type of action: Innovation Action
The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.