High Temperature Fuel Cell Power For Europe From Siemens (U.S.)

The first solid oxide fuel cell power generating plant of its kind in Europe is to be built by the Siemens Power Generation Group (PG) in Europe, under contract to Stadtwerke Hanover AG and E.ON Energie AG.

HANOVER, Germany, 2002-02-28 [SolarAccess.com] The standardized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) plant with a maximum electrical capacity of 250 kilowatts is to be built in Hanover on the site of the Herrenhausen power plant by 2003. The high-temperature fuel-cell power plant valued at around 5m (US$4.33 million), which PG will be supplying on a turn-key basis, will in normal operating mode feed 225 kW of electrical energy into the grid operated by Stadtwerke Hanover. Simultaneously some 160 kW of heat will be generated for Hanover’s district heating network (a common means of local group housing heating in Europe). Its claimed that the plant’s overall efficiency will be more than 80 per cent. It ” will constitute a milestone for broad-based market introduction of our SOFC power plants,” according to Klaus Voges, PG President, at the contract signing ceremony in Hanover. “As a result of the separation of generation, transmission and distribution in the liberalized power markets, distributed power generation systems are gaining in importance”, says the PG President. In its efforts to push ahead with development in the field of fuel cell technology, Siemens has followed the acquisition of Westinghouse’s fossil power plant business in 1998 and bundled the existing know-how within the two companies with the aim of having commercial products in the marketplace by 2003. For that purpose the Siemens Westinghouse research and development center located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was transformed into a Siemens Power Generation business sector with world-wide responsibility. Work began last year on construction of a fuel cell production facility in Pittsburgh, which is scheduled to start operations before the end of 2002. Capacity is to be expanded in three phases up to the production of more than 100 MW per year and manpower upsized from 150 to between 450 and 500 by 2006. The first standard product that Siemens PG intends to market will be the “CHP 250” system (combined heat and power (cogeneration) with a capacity of 250 kW. At a later date the range of products will be extended to include fuel cell systems including downstream micro turbines with an overall capacity of more than 500 kW. An SOFC operates with practically zero emissions, but by contrast with other types of fuel cell, high-temperature SOFCs can use natural gas or similar renewable fuels directly, because, at almost 1000 degrees Celsius, an internal conversion process enables use of the hydrogen contained in the gas without extra conversion. The waste products are primarily water and a small amount of carbon dioxide, and its claimed there are no other emissions such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide or soot. To date, Siemens has nine demonstration plants world-wide in operation or ordered. North America and Europe are regarded as the most promising markets for SOFCs in stationary power plant applications.

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