The ene.field project (European-wide field trials for residential fuel cell micro-CHP) has been Europe’s (to date) largest demonstration project for FC micro-CHP (fuel cell based micro combined heat and power) systems. The project has demonstrated more than 1000 small stationary fuel cell systems for residential and commercial applications in 10 countries.
This report highlights learning points from the European demonstration project ene.field. It gives a brief introduction to the FC micro-CHP technology as well as the current status of the technology capability and potential, including barriers yet to overcome to reach a mass market.
Fuel cells can efficiently produce electricity and heat from natural gas. Large-scale roll-out of FC micro-CHP units can help the EU fulfil energy policy aims and climate commitments. An environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) of FC micro-CHP unit has been carried out as part of the project. This LCA concluded that in general the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a FC micro-CHP are lower than those of a gas condensing boiler or a heat pump in all the investigated scenarios. Furthermore, the FC micro-CHP generally leads to lower air pollutant emissions compared with the alternative systems.
From a technical point of view, the FC micro-CHP is ready for a large market penetration. In the best 6-month period of the field trial, the availability of the units to the end-user has been above 99%. Of the total failures observed, only 1-2% were due to the fuel cell stack itself.
End-users participating in the ene.field project were very positive to the FC micro-CHP technology. In general, they were very satisfied with all aspects of their micro-CHP systems, especially the environmental profile of the technology. Based on the end-users’ perception, the following two areas with some room for improvement have been identified: running costs and ease of use of the technology.
At today’s capital and maintenance costs, FC micro-CHPs are significantly more expensive than traditional heating technologies. However, as serial production begins, economies of scale will cause the costs to drop substantially. The conducted life cycle cost analysis (LCC) showed that the FC micro-CHP can become economically competitive with volume manufacture. Increased sales encouraged by for example subsidies could therefore improve the near-term economics of micro-CHP units, and may be crucial for the technology to reach the mass market and hence for the EU to harvest the environmental and system benefits.

To read the full report, please click on the following link: Summary_of_analyses_from_the_enefield_project