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Europe aims to become a world-class commercialiser of fuel cell technology

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is coordinating a five-year European consortium worth more than EUR 10 million, which is developing commercial applications from SOFC fuel cell technology. The aim is to implement the reliable production of low-emission electricity and heat, which will lead to significant efficiency gains and carbon emissions savings compared to traditional energy production methods.

New, commercial and energy-efficient fuel cell applications are emerging from the ComSos (Commercial-scale SOFC systems) EU project, which is being coordinated by VTT. The project involves the demonstration of fuel-cell based energy solutions in authentic client environments, in cooperation with leading European system experts. Convion Oy of Finland is participating in the project, alongside Sunfire GmbH from Germany and SOLIDpower SpA from Italy. The ComSos project will involve the implementation of at total of 25 SOFC technology-based power generation solutions around the world.

"Through the project, we will develop world-class commercial products on the basis of European fuel cell expertise. VTT has been developing fuel cell technology for over a decade and we have strong system expertise. We are now bringing this expertise to a project in which we are ensuring that the equipment is efficient, environmentally friendly and provides added value to end-users," says Project Coordinator Jari Kiviaho of VTT.

SOFC technology has major potential in the bio and circular economy, as it enables the scalable, highly efficient utilisation of biogas. The technology is also suitable for small-scale, decentralised local production. When combined with solar and wind power, SOFC evens out daily fluctuations in the power grid. The technology can be utilised wherever electricity and heat are needed, for example in industry, data centres, hospitals, hotels, households and agriculture.

The advantages of fuel cell technology over competing technologies are emphasised in small plants of under 1 MW. For example, Convion Oy, Sunfire GmbH, and SOLIDpower's fuel cell power plants operate with an efficiency of well above 50%, thereby producing much more electrical energy than conventional power plants, for the same amount of fuel.

Another important task of the project is to provide open information and data on SOFC technology and its applicability. People such as decision-makers, technology developers and all potential customers will benefit widely from this.

This five-year project (2018 - 2020) has a budget of 10,2 M€ and has received 7.4 M€ funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 779481. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research. In addition to VTT, which is coordinating the project, the European lead consortium consists of Convion Oy Finland, Sunfire GmbH of Germany and SOLIDpower SpA of Italy, Politecnico di Torino (Department of Energy) of Italy, Blueterra BV of Holland and HTceramics SA of Switzerland are also involved.

Definitions: SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell)
Energy production faces the challenge of producing cleaner electricity and heat with lower fuel consumption/higher efficiency/lower emissions. By using solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), energy is made out of fuel and air. The most notable advantage compared to existing fuel cell technologies is the possibility of using conventional fuels such as natural gas, diesel fuel and biogas, instead of hydrogen. Inside the cell, oxygen in the air and the fuel undergo a direct electrochemical reaction, generating electricity and heat.
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