Stationary Market Applications Potential Of Solid Oxide And Solid Polymer Fuel Cell Systems

J.N.Baker and W.H.Fletcher, EA Technology, Capenhurst, ,

Chester, United Kingdom. CHI 6ES.

1. Introduction

The UK DTI's Advanced Fuel Cells Programmé currently focuses on two main fuel cell technologies, namely the' solid oxide and solid polymer systems (SOFC and SPFC, respectively). The provision of accurate and timely market data is regarded as an important part of the overall programme objectives, such as to assist both Government and industry in their appraisals of the technologies. The present study was therefore commissioned against this background, with a complementary study addressing transportation and mobile applications. The results reported herein relate to the stationary market applications potential of both SOFC and SPFC systems.

The overall applications potential in the stationary'applications sectors is strongly related to the global demand for new power generation and cogeneration capacity. Various independent market forecasts show very significant demand growths here, with world wide sales of power generation equipment approaching 100 GWe pa, by the turn of the century.

Access to just a small percentage of this market would provide an annual sales potential of several thousand MWe pa. However, to determine the primary market applications areas for fuel cell power plant requires a more in-depth investigation of both the likely performance characteristics of future fuel cell systems and also the performance of competitive plant, over this same time period. It also requires the features and characteristics of the individual market sectors, to be examined in detail. These various points are addressed below.

2.1 Central Power Generation

For large scale central power plant, at sizes of in excess of say 25 MWe, the market is presently satisfied by a mix of coal, hydro, natural gas and nuclear power plant, with that fired by natural gas forecast to take an increasing market share, up to the year 2010, if not beyond. The availability of a considerable range of gas turbine based power plant, offering high efficiencies, low emissions and reliable operation, all at attractive price levels, is believed to preclude any significant market entry by high temperature fuel cell power plant on timescales of up to 2010.

22 Distributed Generation

A combination of circumstances is developing, such that utilities are re-examining the case for distributed generation systems. Such factors include:-

- a general de-regulation of the utilities sector, with increased competilion, and a general trend towards smaller power plant

-rapidly increasing costs of transmission and distribution (T&D) capacity

- increasing difficulties in securing wayleavcs, (tracts of land underneath overhead power lines) mitigating against overhead power line systems.

- increased emphasis on energy efficiency and a desire to minimise T&D losses, which may typically amount to 5-10%

Utility ownership and operation of advanced SOFC power plant is likely to offer significant advantages in terms of asset optimisation, avoidance of additional T&D costs, enhanced security of supply, and system and energy efficiency benefits. It is also complementary to the demand side management (DSM) programmes, being pursued by many utility companies.

23 Cogeneration, or Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

An in-depth analysis of the cogeneration sector showed that market uptake in this sector is highly dependent on the underlying national legislaiive/regulatory frameworks and the often complementary financial _ and tariff regimes in .force. Opportunities. for cogeneration equipment as a whole can therefore be highly country, site and situation specific.

The applicability, to this sector, of both SOFC and SPFC systems was examined. For the larger scale, industrial sector, the market prospects for SOFC power plant are believed to be severely limited by the poor match of the heat to power ratios demanded by industry vs. those available from high efficiency (55% plus) SOFC plant, with heat to power ratios significantly below unity. Cogeneration schemes in such industrial sectors are typically heat demand led and achieve their financial sanction primarily on the revenue savings arising from displaced imported power. Any moves towards export based schemes are often inhibited by the unfavourable tariff structures for such schemes and the necessity to secure satisfactory long term export contracts. One exception to this rule could however occur in the form of utility owned and essentially straight generation plant, such as discussed under distributed generation, above. Here, the off take of a relatively small amount of heat, to service a local heat demand, could enhance the economics of what may already be a good straight generation scheme.

Within the smaller scale, commercial sector, considerable potential is believed to exist for SPFC systems, where their overall performance characteristics closely match those of existing reciprocating engine based systems. Solid polymer based systems are likely to possess considerable performance advantages in terms of their low noise and vibration, favourable emissions characteristics and reduced O&M costs.

3. Market Quantifications

3.1 SOFC Distributed Generation Systems

The multi-MWe distributed generation market is believed to represent an attractive market entry point for SOFC systems, for the various reasons discussed above. Three scenarios were considered for the uptake of SOFC systems in this market sector, defined as high, central and low.

The development of the market for SOFC power plant is then predicted to follow the trends shown in Figures 1, shown in terms of the average annual sales in MWe , in each of seven successive five yearly periods, spanning the time frame 1995 to 2029.

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