Distributed/Stationary Fuel Cell Systems

Photo of stationary fuel cell

The Department of Energy (DOE) is developing high-efficiency fuel cell systems for distributed and stationary uses as an alternative power source to grid-based electricity for buildings, which account for approximately 36% of the primary energy consumption and 30% to 40% of airborne emissions in the United States. Stationary fuel cells can save energy, reduce emissions, and offer increased reliability compared to traditional technologies.

Here you will find information about learning demonstrations, R&D project status, and technical and cost targets.

Learning Demonstrations

DOE funds stationary/distributed generation learning demonstrations projects to validate fuel cell technologies in real-world applications.

R&D Project Status

The status of DOE's stationary power systems R&D projects is detailed in the fuel cells section of the Annual Progress Reports.

Technical and Cost Targets

Preliminary technical and cost targets for fuel cells used in combined heat and power and auxiliary power applications were released in 2009. These targets are based on Request for Information responses from the fuel cell developer and R&D community. Final targets will be published in the next revision of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan due to be released in 2010. The tables below summarize the preliminary targets.

Preliminary Technical Targets: 1–10 kWe Residential Combined Heat and Power Fuel Cells Operating on Natural Gas1
  2008 Status 2012 2015 2020
Electrical efficiency at rated power2 34% 40% 42.5% 45%
CHP energy efficiency3 80% 85% 87.5% 90%
Factory cost4 $750/kW $650/kW $550/kW $450/kW
Transient response (10%- 90% rated power) 5 min 4 min 3 min 2 min
Start-up time from 20°C ambient temperature 60 min 45 min 30 min 20 min
Degradation with cycling5 < 2%/1000 h 0.7%/1000 h 0.5%/1000 h 0.3%/1000 h
Operating lifetime6 6,000 h 30,000 h 40,000 h 60,000 h
System availability 97% 97.5% 98% 99%

1Standard utility natural gas delivered at typical residential distribution line pressures.
2Regulated AC net/lower heating value of fuel.
3Only heat available at 80°C or higher is included in CHP energy efficiency calculation.
4Cost includes materials and labor costs to produce stack, plus any balance of plant necessary for stack operation. Cost defined at 50,000 unit/year production (250 MW in 5-kW modules).
5Based on operating cycle to be released in 2010.
6Time until >20% net power degradation.

Preliminary Technical Targets: 1–10 kWe Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units Operating on Standard Ultra-low Sulfur Diesel Fuel
  2008 Status 2012 2015 2020
Electrical efficiency at rated power1 25% 30% 35% 40%
Power density 17 W/L 30 W/L 35 W/L 40 W/L
Specific power 20 W/kg 35 W/kg 40 W/kg 45 W/kg
Factory cost2 $750/kW $700/kW $600/kW $500/kW
Transient response (10%- 90% rated power) 5 min 4 min 3 min 2 min
Start-up time from 20°C ambient temperature 50 min 30 min 10 min 5 min
Degradation with cycling3 2.6%/1000 h 2%/1000 h 1.3%/1000 h 1%/1000 h
Operating lifetime4 3,000 h 10,000 h 15,000 h 20,000 h
System availability 97% 97.5% 98% 99%

1Regulated DC net/lower heating value of fuel.
2Cost includes materials and labor costs to produce stack, plus any balance of plant necessary for stack operation. Cost defined at 50,000 unit/year production (250 MW in 5-kW modules).
3Based on operating cycle to be released in 2010.
4Time until >20% net power degradation.