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EnergyIndustry & services

Fuel Cells in individual homes in France : decentralized energy

This innovative solution for housing, co-developed by ENGIE, converts natural gas into simultaneously heat and electricity, inside the house. These new ecogenerators are based on the fuel cell technology and have numerous advantages in terms of energetic and economic performance. A first implementation in Europe is to be done soon !

Detailed Solution description

Ene.field  is a European project that brings together a consortium of manufacturers, energy companies (such as ENGIE), and academics.

Within the framework of the project, 1,000 fuel cells will be tested in 12 European countries by 2017. The goal is to show the technical potential of the technology in residential and commercial buildings, and to assess the energy-related and environmental benefits compared with a traditional solution, in terms of energy and environmental efficiency.

Fuel-cell technology transforms natural gas into electricity through a chemical reaction, in a decentralized way, directly in the home, noiselessly and without emitting pollutants.

A fuel-cell eco-generator produces all the heating needs of an individual home and at the same time meets most of its electricity requirements. The solution considerably reduces a home’s primary energy consumption (gas and electricity) by 20% to 50% by generating electricity locally at the price of natural gas.

This principle of micro-co-generation (mixing electricity and heat through the same local installation) reduces significantly energy losses compared with a traditional electricity production system. Indeed, this solution leads to an average of 5% energy loss to be juxtaposed to a 50% loss for a thermal gas power plant (including losses from generation and transport) !

This solution is in accordance with the French law on energy transition. It allows to :

– Reduce one’s primary energy consumption up to 50%, along with its CO2 emissions,

– Realize 20% to 50% savings on a energy bill thanks to a localized electricity production at the price of natural gas. 

The project’s goal is to install 1,000 micro-cogeneration systems of that type in Europe by 2017.

The first 10 fuel cells, manufactured by BAXI INNOTECH (BDR Thermea group) and HEXIS (VIESSMANN group), were installed in modern homes with assistance from De Dietrich Thermique and Savelys. 20 other installations are planned in 2015 with other manufacturers.

More than 100,000 fuel cells have already been marketed in individual homes in Japan – the fuel cell represents an efficient technological solution that meets the energy challenges of the buildings of tomorrow. 

 

Launch Date

Implementation began on

Underway since September 2012 (European project) and January 2014 (first installations)

Solution Partners

GDF SUEZ, BAXI INNOTECH, BOSCH, BRITISH GAS, CERES POWER, COGEN EUROPE, DTU, DANTHERM, DBI, DCHT, DOLOMITI ENERGIA, DONG ENERGY, ELCORE, ELEMENT ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT PARK, EIFER, GWI, HEXIS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON, HyER, ITHO Daalderop, POLITO, RBZ, SOFCpower, THE ENERGY SAVING TRUST, and VAILLANT.

Weak points for Solution deployment

The economic benefit of the solution is related to the price differential between electricity and gas. The lower the price difference the less economically efficient the solution.

Key figures illustrating Solution deployment and results

A fuel-cell eco-generator, installed in an individual home, can reduce greenhouse gases emissions of around 7% when compared to a scenario where heat is produced with a natural gas condensing boiler and electricity comes from the national grid (estimation based on an average European scenario, taking into account life cycle greenhouse gases emissions).

Performance, impact and results

Environmental
A fuel-cell eco-generator, installed in an individual home, can reduce greenhouse gases emissions of around 7%.

Economic
The solution considerably reduces a home’s primary energy consumption (gas and electricity) by 20% to 50% by generating electricity locally at the price of natural gas.

Technical
Fuel-cell technology transforms natural gas into electricity with an average electrical efficiency reaching up to 60%.

  • Professional contact
    Stéphane Hody
    ENGIE Research & Technologies Division
    Research engineer at ENGIE
  • Press Contact
    Alexandra Michy
    Research & Technologies Division
    Communication Manager at ENGIE