The first fuel cell power plant in Germany has been launched powering the offices of the country’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The plant, integrated into the building’s sustainable micro grid, covers about 40 per cent of the electricity needs of the office complex and about 20 per cent of its thermal requirements.
Apart from the fuel cell technology, the building’s smart energy management system also includes a solar array to generate clean and cheap power during peak demand hours, which is backed up with a natural gas engine for days with a limited amount of sunshine.
"The fuel cells, as the heart of this innovative energy concept, contribute largely to the reduction of the fuel demand of the building complex," said Markus Koch, head of the building contractor BAM Deutschland GmbH.
The system was built by German-based FuelCell Energy Solutions as part of a public-private partnership pioneering novel approaches to energy security and sustainability.
"The Federal Ministry of Research values sustainability as new innovations increase energy efficiency and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Rudiger Frischer, press officer at BMBF.
"The high efficiency of the fuel cell power generation process is a critical aspect of this sustainability system, using about a third less fuel compared to conventional power generation alternatives.”
Additionally, the spokesman said, the fuel cell plant enables the ministry complex to be about 50 per cent below relevant energy saving regulations.
"This installation, located inside an office complex in central Berlin, showcases the ability of fuel cells to meet power load requirements for a large facility, cleanly, quietly, and with an economically compelling value proposition," said Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy Inc and managing director of FuelCell Energy Solutions GmbH.
"Stationary fuel cell power plants are well-suited for both commercial applications as well as utility grid-support as their high electrical efficiency makes them an affordable solution that is not dependent on the weather or time of day to produce power."
The company said the system does not produce any pollutants and is completely quiet and vibration free, which makes it a suitable choice even for highly populated areas.
The BMBF complex with the fuel cell power plant and further building energy efficiency features was awarded a gold certificate from the Sustainable Building for Federal Buildings (BNB) ranking system, the highest achievable level.