Dutch VPP using Solar PV and Fuel Cell Tech

The Dutch island of Ameland is to be the location of a novel Virtual Power Plant (VPP) trials based around 6 MW of solar PV capacity and 45 fuel cell-based micro-combined heat and power (m-CHP) units.

Ameland has set itself the goal of being carbon neutral by 2020. A number of  renewable energy projects are being developed, including a 6 MW solar-field – the largest single installation covering 20% of the island’s total power demand.


Backed by the Wadden Fund, a major financial contributor, other parties involved in the €1.8 million project are the Municipality of Ameland, Republiq Power, Sustainable Ameland, and utility and energy companies Gasterra and Liander.


Fuel cell manufacturer Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd (CFCL) will supply its BlueGEN systems to the Ameland project, the largest of its type in Europe.


Under the first stage of the VPP project, which is being led by Dutch project developer Republic Power, the first installations at residential or SME properties are expected to start in December 2013. The VPP project will run for five years, after which the participants can take over the BlueGEN units for an administrative fee.


One of the main goals of the research programme is to measure the impact of fuel cell technology on the power supply of the island. Furthermore, the project aims to demonstrate that a local smart grid for power generation can be modulated up or down to meet peak loads and balance intermittent power from wind or solar by using fuel cells.

The fuel cell module


It is envisaged that a further scale up of the number of fuel cell micro-CHP units will be required in order to compensate for the varying energy output of the solar park once it is completed.


“This large-scale project clearly demonstrates the next stage of Virtual Power Plant technology commercialisation”, said Frank Obernitz, Managing Director of CFCL in Europe.


In a related development, CFCL has also signed a deal to supply 10 of its BlueGen units to the UK’s National Grid Affordable Warmth Solutions (National Grid AWS) for installation at social housing partners. Under the agreement, National Grid AWS will gift BlueGEN units to Social Housing Provider partners on the basis of receiving feed in tariff payments.


Image: A cutaway of the fuel cell module at the heart of the BlueGen m-CHP system, via CFCL.

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David Appleyard is a contributing editor. Formerly Editor in Chief of Renewable Energy World and sister renewable energy magazines Wind Technology, Large Scale Solar and HRW - Hydro Review Worldwide, now a freelance journalist and photographer contributing to a wide range of on-line and print publications. David has some 20 years' experience of writing about the renewable energy sector and is based in Europe.

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