Fuel cells deliver CHP for Finnish smart grid
February 13, 2018
A renewable energy system to make a Finnish business district energy self-sufficient will soon become reality, after three companies recently agreed to cooperate.
Estonian fuel cell manufacturer Elcogen has teamed up with Finnish 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.
“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,” said Lempäälä Energia CEO Toni Laakso. “The Lemene smart grid will feature a variety of smart technologies that will respond to changing electric demand, enabled by automation adapted to the micro-grid. An important part of the project is to secure energy availability as renewable energy production varies.”
With the solar array and battery storage, the Lemene system also required an efficient CHP system from Convion that would convert biogas to generate electricity and heat to supply nearby businesses.
Under the 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 CHP systems with a total electrical output of 116kW are Elcogen’s solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks.
“The Lemene project provides us a great opportunity to demonstrate highly efficient and clean power generation based on Convion fuel cell products,” said Convion CEO Erkko Fontell. “The project is a unique example of future power, 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.”
The Lemene project showcases low-carbon energy generation, energy storage and smart controls, combining to provide self-sufficient district energy. The Lemene system has been highlighted by the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs & Employment (MEAE) as a way to 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.
“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,” said Elcogen CEO Enn Õunpuu. “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.”
The 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 €39.7m in investment aid from the MEAE, of which Lemene received €4.97m. The investment aid is intended for future energy projects so Finland can achieve its national targets and the targets laid down at EU level for 2030.
The project lasts two years, from summer 2017 to autumn 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 2019, at the latest.