Analysis of fuel cell technologies for microcogeneration devices in the households and service sector
Keywords:fuel cell, micro-cogeneration, households and service sector, combined heat and power
Present-day fuel cells for combined heat and power (CHP), even when fuelled with natural gas, are a promising technology in residential and commercial sectors because of their efficiency and carbon benefits. Using micro-cogeneration devices in fuel cell technologies could play a significant role in reducing harmful emissions into the environment in the building sector at a national level. This paper presents different technological solutions for fuel cells in the building sector, and reviews their applications and their technical characteristics. These characteristics are the basis for their comparison with competitive low-carbon technologies. In addition, a common benchmark for comparison of different technologies through appropriate methodology is described, considering how these devices work when they are connected to an electric power system, while using real data of comparable devices. This paper presents evidence and methods required for comparison of fuel cells with conventional systems for production of heat and electricity, as well as for competing with low-carbon technologies. A common way to compare fuel cell directly to heat pumps is developed, primarily through calculation of the equivalent coefficient of energy efficiency. The intensity of carbon emissions from electricity production is calculated using replacement methods, and a logical extension for calculating the intensity of carbon emissions from production of thermal energy for comparison to heat pumps is proposed.