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German virtual power plant project using 25 BlueGen micro CHP systems from Ceramic Fuel Cells

The first commercial fuel cell virtual power plant in Germany has been officially opened in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The network features 25 BlueGen solid oxide fuel cell micro combined heat and power (mCHP) systems supplied by Australian-based Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd.

The virtual power plant network is being managed by municipal utility Trianel, which will offer BlueGen® units to its customers as part of its EnergieBlock® micro CHP offering. The virtual power plant connects 25 BlueGen units, which convert natural gas into electricity and heat with exceptional electrical efficiency.

A virtual power plant is a cluster of distributed electricity generation units, controlled and operated by a central entity using integrated software systems. A virtual power plant allows power generation to be modulated up or down to meet peak loads and balance intermittent power from wind or solar, with higher efficiency and more flexibility than large centralised power stations.

Producing energy where it is needed also eases the burden on electricity distribution networks and prevents distribution losses, which can amount to as much as 10% from large power plants using conventional generation methods.

Ceramic Fuel Cells and its local distributor, Frankfurt-based sanevo blue energy, have delivered the 25 BlueGen units to Trianel. So far 15 municipal utilities in Germany as well as the Energie-Kompetenz-Zentrum Rhein-Erft-Kreis are involved in the project.

The municipal utilities are installing the BlueGen units in their customer centres and with selected customers. There are also plans to roll out the BlueGen units to end customers in apartment buildings and commercial properties.

‘North Rhine-Westphalia is the state for energies of the future, and needs more utilities of the future for an accelerated energy transition,’ says Johannes Remmel, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for the Environment.

‘Combined heat and power should play an important role in our federal state,’ he continues. ‘Therefore, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning a support programme for CHP of €250 million [US$320 million]. Our goal is to increase the CHP share of electricity generation to more than 25 percent.’

Trianel is the leading municipal utility network in Germany and Europe, with more than 50 local utilities as members and serving more than 5 million customers in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland.

Trianel began the mini and micro CHP project last December. This led to the mini and micro CHP network, in which currently 40 municipal utilities are participating. The goal is to establish highly efficient mini and micro CHP systems on the market under the name EnergieBlock.

Ceramic Fuel Cells’ BlueGen units are also being used to power a virtual power plant project in the Netherlands with energy network company Liander and IBM.

 

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Green building

 

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