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Local Gov't Testing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Systems for Energy Self-sufficiency

2016/07/27 18:05
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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The new fuel cell system that was introduced in July 2016 on a trial basis. The two units behind the system are mock-ups. (source: Nikkei BP)
"Yume Solar House Yamanashi" and its rooftop solar power generation system (source: Nikkei BP)
Hydrogen is produced by using surplus solar electricity and stored. (source: Nikkei BP)

Yamanashi Prefectural Enterprise Bureau will introduce three units of a new pure hydrogen-type fuel cell system (0.7kW per unit) to "Yume Solar House Yamanashi," a facility that is powered by renewable energy-derived electricity generated in house on a trial basis and open to the public, in October or November 2016.

With the introduction, the bureau aims to establish a system that can be operated with almost no grid electricity even during nighttime hours.

Yume Solar House Yamanashi is an exhibition facility related to renewable energy and has a peak demand of about 10kW. It is powered by storing electricity generated by a 20kW rooftop solar power generation system and a 1.5kW small hydroelectric generation system using rainwater in three power storage systems: (1) an electric double layer capacitor with a capacity of 3kWh, (2) a lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery with a capacity of about 30kWh and (3) a hydrogen production system with a capacity equivalent to about 30kWh. Hydrogen generated by the hydrogen production system is reconverted to electricity by using the fuel cells.

The facility is also connected to a power grid of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. And the final supply-demand balance is controlled by sending (selling) electricity to and receiving (buying) electricity from the grid.

In the past, the facility had only one fuel cell system, a 0.75kW system manufactured by Panasonic Corp. To make the system, the company remodeled the Enefarm, an existing fuel-cell cogeneration system using city gas as fuel, into a pure-hydrogen type by, for example, removing a reformer.

Panasonic has already developed a new pure hydrogen-type fuel cell system designed on the premise of using pure hydrogen as fuel. This time, the company replaced the 0.75kW system with the new system at Yume Solar House Yamanashi. And it will set up two more units by the fall of 2016.

The new pure hydrogen-type fuel cell system is more compact than the previous system and has a rated output of 0.7kW. The previous model was not designed for operation with a partial load lower than its rated output, and only on/off control was possible. On the other hand, the new system can be operated with a partial load lower than its rated output.