Research & Innovation - Participant Portal

TOPIC : Demonstration of fuel cell-based energy storage solutions for isolated micro-grid or off-grid remote areas

Topic identifier: FCH-02-10-2016
Publication date: 19 January 2016

Types of action: FCH2-IA Innovation action
Opening date:
19 January 2016
Deadline: 03 May 2016 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

It has been estimated that 1.2 billion people globally will be without electricity access by 2025 [1], in addition 1 billion people are connected to unstable networks and are regularly exposed to power outages [2]. It may thus be considered that 2.2 billion people (i.e. around 35% of the global population) are “under-electrified” [3] with a massive use of diesel generation. Indeed, with an installed diesel production capacity of 600GW [4], for which it has been estimated that half is installed on off-grid sites [5], the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and CO2 emissions is mandatory.

Isolated areas in Europe (e.g. villages, alpine refuges or 1000s of islands) where micro-grid are present in general have high electricity generation cost. Since the production of electricity generally derives from thermal plants powered by fossil fuels, like combined cycle plants or diesel electrical plants, the cost of electrical energy is heavily dependent on the cost of these fossil fuels, their logistics and their transport. Thus, the cost per kilowatt-hour delivered to the end user is definitively higher than that associated with connection to the main network.

The need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce energy costs has guided the investment policies of certain isolated territories in recent years so that, as an example, today numerous islands have significant renewable energy capacity or plan to invest in this sector.

However, most of these isolated territories have not yet been able to guarantee their independence from fossil fuels mainly because of renewables intermittency, thus exploitation of the full potential for energy production by their renewable energy plants is still missing.

Ultimately, RES electricity generation cost is very low. In these conditions of very cheap RES electricity, positive business cases can be built using excess or additional RES to power electrolysers, use hydrogen as energy storage medium and reconvert hydrogen into electricity with fuel cell technology when requested by end-users.

The specific challenge of the topic is to promote in isolated micro-grid and/or off grid sites the implementation of reliable and clean integrated power solution based on fuel cell technology for:

  • decreasing the use of fossil fuel and CO2 emission;
  • decreasing the cost of energy;
  • adoption of RES electricity storage in chemical form (hydrogen) thus enabling wind and solar power to act as stand-alone primary energy sources, solving the intermittency issue for a better security in power supply; and
  • increasing the energy supply independence.

[1] McKinsey Global Institute: Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy, p. 98

[2] A.T Kearney report in collaboration with GOGLA, Investment and Finance Study for Off-Grid Lighting, June 2014

[3] IEA (2012); IEA (2013)

[4] The Boston Consulting Group, Revisiting Energy Storage, There is a Business Case, February 2011,p. 10

[5] Siemens Corporate Technology, June 2014, p.58


The goal of this topic is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of fuel cell technologies generating electrical energy in off-grid or isolated micro-grid areas, as stand-alone solution integrated with renewables via electrolyser.

Fuel cell technologies in the power range of 5-200 kW will be demonstrated in minimum 2 sites. Minimum 200 kW total capacity production of power will be demonstrated. Such large power range will allow to address different load requirement of isolated sites (e.g. from single homes to schools).

Existing source of renewable energy will be used, while demonstration of electrolyser of at least 500 kW and storage equipment is in the scope of the project.

The project should:

  • Validate real demonstration units in representative applications of isolated micro-grid or off-grid areas, in order to enable suppliers, end users and general stakeholders to gain experience throughout the value chain; and
  • Demonstrate the added value of the fuel cell-based energy storage solutions with respect to alternative technologies in terms of economics, technical capabilities and environmental benefits.

Further objectives:

  • Demonstration through field applications of the advantages of innovative technologies (hardware or software) including, but not limited to, monitoring, control, diagnosis, lifetime estimation, new BoP components.
  • Online monitoring of operating conditions, load demands and system output will provide initial data to determine the overall efficiency of the system within the testing period.
  • Optimization of power electronics to guarantee a proper integration of fuel cell products with the renewable source and end user/microgrid.

The project will be open to all fuel cell technologies.

Field demonstration usage data, efficiency, reliability are to be reported. Any event (accidents, incidents, near misses) that may occur during the project execution shall be reported into the European reference database HIAD (Hydrogen Incident and Accident Database) at

TRL at start: 6

TRL at end: 7

The consortium should include EU fuel cell manufacturers, relevant suppliers for BoP components and research institutions or academic groups.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3-5 years

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected Impact:

Following support to development of electrolysers for off-grid applications in AWP2015, this topic will focus on demonstration of integrated fuel cell-based energy storage solutions in off-grid remote areas or isolated micro-grid.

This demonstration must not only raise public awareness; it should be used to establish confidence in technology, business models and market readiness with end-users and authorities of isolated territories.

The project should focus on the following impacts:

  • Energy independency at the local scale, with maximum recovery of locally available RES;
  • Reduction of the cost of energy to the final users
  • Reduction of use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions
  • Reduce CAPEX towards 5,000€/kW for fuel cell systems and 2M€/(t/d) for electrolysers following the KPIs of the MAWP
  • Increase system lifetime of more than 15 years and maintenance interval by new/improved components according the MAWP
  • Demonstrate a viable solution and a replicable business case
  • Improvement of energy security and reliability
  • Supplier and user experience of installation/commissioning, operation and use of fuel cell power generation

To enable generalization of the field experience obtained, benefit from experience worldwide and facilitate technology replication, it is desirable that the selected project could feed into relevant ongoing standardization activities on fuel cells operating in reversing configuration during the duration of the Innovation Action.

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. The following exceptions apply (see 'chapter 3.3. Call management rules' from the AWP2016 and specific topic description):  'For some, well-identified topics it is therefore duly justified to require as an additional condition for participation that at least one constituent entity of the Industry Grouping or Research Grouping is among the participants in the consortium.'

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the FCH2 JU proposal template.
  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. As part of the Panel Review, hearings will be organised for Innovation Actions (IA) proposals. 

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.
  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    FCH2 JU Innovation Action (FCH2-IA):

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below.
    Standard evaluation form
    FCH2 JU Model Grant Agreement
    Annotated Grant Agreement

  6. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
    Classified information
    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.
    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

  8. Additional documents:

    FCH2 JU 2016 Work Plan
    FCH2 JU Multi Annual Work Plan
    FCH2 JU – Regulation of establishment
    H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
    Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation

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