Next-gen fuel cells in new Finnish clean energy smart grid
LEMPÄÄLÄ, FINLAND – A new renewable energy system to make a Finnish business district energy self-sufficient will soon become reality, after three companies recently signed agreements for delivery.
Leading fuel cell manufacturer Elcogen has teamed up with fuel cell system developer Convion to power two combined heat and power (CHP) systems for the LEMENE smart grid, led by energy company Lempäälän Energia.
The smart grid, earmarked by the Finnish government as a key project in helping the country achieve its national energy targets for decarbonisation, will be powered by a 4MW solar photovoltaic array, an 8MW biogas engine and a battery to deliver a secure and reliable power supply for approximately 50 businesses in the industrial district of Marjamäki, south-western Finland.
Under the recently signed agreement, the two fuel cell co-generation systems built by Convion will be integrated into the smart grid in the district. At the heart of the combined heat and power (CHP) systems with a total electrical output of 116kW are Elcogen’s next generation of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks.
The unique LEMENE project showcases low-carbon energy generation, energy storage and smart controls, combining to provide a self-sufficient district energy solution. The LEMENE system has been highlighted by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEAE) as an energy solution that can help Finland achieve its national targets and those set by the European Union for 2030. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government has called for increasing the use of renewable energy to more than 50 per cent during the 2020s and self-sufficiency to more than 55 per cent.
Lempäälä Energia CEO Toni Laakso said:
“The LEMENE system will operate mainly as part of the public electrical grid but can also operate as a supporting reserve system for the public electrical grid, or independently off-grid, on demand.
“The LEMENE smart grid will feature a variety of smart technologies that will respond to changing electric demand, enabled by automation solutions adapted to the micro-grid. An important part of the project is to secure energy availability as renewable energy production varies.
“In conjunction with the solar array and battery storage, the LEMENE system also required a highly-efficient combined heat and power system from Convion that would convert biogas to generate electricity and heat to supply nearby businesses.”
Convion CEO Erkko Fontell said:
“The LEMENE project provides us a great opportunity to demonstrate highly efficient and clean power generation based on Convionfuel cell products. The project is a unique example of a future power solution, where requirements for energy efficiency, power security and sustainability are met.
“It shows how Convion fuel cells can be part of future smart grids, where different energy sources and a network of distributed solutions revolutionise how we produce electricity.”
Elcogen CEO Enn Õunpuu said:
“We’re excited that Elcogen’s next generation fuel cell technology is at the heart of this renewable energy smart grid system that can demonstrate how to decarbonise Europe’s energy markets and deliver self-sufficiency for residential and commercial power.
“This key renewable energy project will serve as an exceptional opportunity to explore how a larger scale smart grid functions in conjunction with the current electricity market, while generating 100 per cent renewable power from solar and bio-gas sources.”
Lempäälän Energia Ltd’s LEMENE project aims to create an energy self-sufficient business district. Located in the Marjamäki industrial area in Lempäälä, the project is one of 11 key energy projects to receive a share of €39.7 million in investment aid from the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEAE), of whichLEMENE received €4.97 million. The investment aid is intended for future energy solutions so that Finland can achieve its national targets and the targets laid down at EU level for 2030. The LEMENE project lasts two years, from summer of 2017 to fall of 2019. In 2018, the first solar panels and gas engines along with the fuel cells and battery will be set up and put into operation. The whole energy system will be complete and fully operating in summer of 2019, at the latest.
Elcogen set out to develop the next generation of fuel cell from the ground up to overcome the key challenges holding back the technology. Elcogen delivered cells with the world’s highest efficiencies while also addressing key issues around cost, scale and lifetimes. Elcogen’s solution was to develop a unique anode-supported ceramic technology to create solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) with the market’s lowest operating temperatures. Low temperatures mean Elcogen cells can utilise low-cost materials designed for mass manufacturing, while also delivering longer system lifetimes. Based in Estonia & Finland, Elcogen supplies more than 60 global customers.
Convion Ltd. is a leading fuel cell system developer committed to commercializing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems in power range of 50–300kW for distributed power generation. By commitment, creativity and agility of Convion team and collaboration with best partners throughout our supply chain, Convion will provide its customers with cost competitive and environmentally sound power generation solutions that radically improve reliability of energy supply and efficiency of primary energy use as well as make possible future increases of renewables in energy mix. Convion shareholders include Power Fund III, managed by VNT Management, founders and Wärtsilä.