Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/7762
The successful deployment of fuel cell-based micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) systems in the 1-10 kW scale for residential and light commercial applications faces substantial market challenges. In addition to the hurdles of low first cost, low maintenance, proven durability and robustness, fuel cell-based mCHP faces competition with renewable resources such as solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, as well as the continuing challenge of low-cost grid electricity. Furthermore, early mCHP market technology penetrators in Europe and Japan have been largely based on internal combustion engines. The present study explores the application of optimized, natural gas-fueled solid oxide fuel cell combined heat and power systems in both single-family detached dwellings and light commercial buildings. Building loads and energy costs of four different geographic areas are presented and simulation of an SOFC system against the various building energy demands is performed to provide a techno-economic evaluation of the technology. Results related to SOFC operating strategies, system “right-sizing,” the match between end-use and mCHP system thermal-to-electric ratios, and emission characteristics are presented with an aim towards identifying the overall viability and necessary application requirements for successful deployment of the technology. Emission levels are found to be substantially lower than those associated with grid-electricity generation, however, the viability of SOFC technology is found to be strongly correlated with the price difference between natural gas and grid-electricity. Climate conditions at one of the considered geographic locations is similar to Polish conditions. Although, gas and electricity prices in Poland are different than at the American market, the results of the study illustrates circumstances for a future development of the SOFC-based mCHP systems in Poland.