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TOPIC : Validation and demonstration of commercial-scale fuel cell core systems within a power range of 10-100kW for selected markets/applications

Topic identifier: FCH-02-11-2017
Publication date: 17 January 2017

Types of action: FCH2-IA Innovation action
Opening date:
17 January 2017
Deadline: 20 April 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-JTI-FCH-2017
Work Programme Part: FCH2 Work Plan 2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The European landscape of stationary fuel cells for highly efficient distributed generation has grown richer and more diverse. The industry provides solutions for different use cases in three scales of residential, commercial and industrial applications.

Several European companies provide core component technologies (i.e. stacks, sometimes integrated with the fuel reformer) in ene.field and PACE and have already demonstrated such concepts in larger system designs. Other companies provide already full system solutions demonstrated as prototypes in ongoing FCH2-JU projects. While FC based micro-CHP applications have found their first markets and pick up industrial dynamics, the larger in power commercial applications using the same core technology still need to gain the full trust of system integrators. The validation of the technological performance and reliability and of attractive business cases is key. Large companies in Asia and North America are currently successfully pursuing the development and market entry of fuel cells in the commercial segment. Some of these companies are looking to incorporate next generation European technology. European companies need therefore to validate and demonstrate the successful integration into reliable products now in Europe, ensuring that Europe avoids importing high cost products based on inefficient or poorly matched technologies.

Besides the technical and commercial risks, the integrator industry also shows some reluctance to engage in development as their own investments depend on the core components of SME, as today most stacks are provided by medium size manufacturers that are financially more exposed than large corporations.

This notwithstanding, if FCs are to become economically competitive it is necessary to achieve a substantial reduction in capital costs by increasing production volumes while simultaneously improving the technology behind them. The learning curve needs to be similar to that exhibited by renewable energy technologies.

It is important to leverage the field and demonstration project of the micro-CHP sector to enhance the first achievements of the implementation of fuel cells. The larger production volumes of systems and components need to be translated in further improvements in both cost and quality, and into the validation and demonstration of the technology in further market segments.

Thus further demonstration projects and/or field trials are now required in order to validate the technology at higher power ranges for applications in the commercial building segment.


Main scope of this topic is to validate and demonstrate European CHP solutions for the commercial building sector within the specified power range.

Technical: Provide advanced fuel cell based CHP concepts demonstrating the superior advantages of fuel cell based CHP systems by achieving a high level of electrical efficiency (50%+) and an overall efficiency of 90%+ (combined use of heat)

Economical: Demonstrate the customer advantages and viable business models in the aforementioned power range with fuel concepts using the existing high-quality, low-cost gas grid and highly efficient power generation and measure these against previous investigations from the FCH-JU (i.e. “Advancing Europe’s energy systems: Stationary fuel cells in distributed generations” (2015).

European industry: Derive concepts on how to integrate fuel cell core systems into final customer products for the European market by OEMs and system integration companies. Provide common standards and battery limits to make the fuel cell solutions commonly available and thus minimizing the risk to OEMs and system integrators when integrating FC technologies into their products.

Projects within this topic should demonstrate both operation in relevant environments and the route to high availability in significant volumes (10 - 20 installations and 400 - 600 kW installed power).

In addition to the aforementioned targets, projects within this topic shall include some of the following tasks:

  • Present advanced, innovative concepts that demonstrate the benefits of the use of European FC technologies as part of CHP systems for the commercial sector (e.g. combined heating and cooling (CCHP), integration into critical infrastructures, smart metering and control, other polygenerational concepts).
  • Validate the expectations on how fuel cell based CHP can improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions and avoid further emissions (particulate, NOX)
  • Show how the availability and lifetime required for the abovementioned market segments can be achieved (either by further technological improvements or accompanying service concepts) and how this benefits the expansion of renewables
  • Define standard interface concepts for FC components and core modules in order to enable non-FC manufacturers to integrate FC generators into their final products using standardized interfaces and battery limits, thus paving the way for new distribution channels.
  • Design business model [1], installation, maintenance and service concepts for commercial customers.
  • Develop novel DAQ, monitoring and data analysis concepts and combine them with the latest smart control concepts and products (i.e. support demand-side management).

The consortium should include at least three core fuel cell component suppliers (like stack and reformer) from the European fuel cell industry and in addition to two stakeholders from other areas like

  • FC system integrators
  • Relevant suppliers of BoP components (i.e. power electronics, heat exchangers)
  • Providers of service and maintenance
  • Utilities or municipal energy suppliers

Research institutions and academic groups may also be included to take a supporting role (i.e. for example as partners responsible for the monitoring of KPIs).

Collaboration with national initiatives is recommended in order to leverage additional funding for the second demonstration step.

Where applicable the topic shall build upon the experience and achievements from earlier projects and further bring about cost reductions by increasing the volume of component (and in particular stack) production and thus improve and strengthen the competitiveness of the European supplier industry.

Projects under this topic shall improve the state of the technology from a TRL at level 5 to level 7.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 7.5 million per project . This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

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

Expected duration: 3-5 years

[1] Building on the back of the latest EU studies (Roland Berger study & current Business Model study)

Expected Impact:

The project shall explicitly strengthen the European value chain for key components:

  • Stack
  • Reformer
  • High-temperature heat exchangers
  • Further sub-supplied components such as power electronics and desulphurization devices

Proposals need to explain which of these issues can be addressed by raising volumes and in turn improving and strengthening the competitiveness of the European supplier industry.

Other impacts expected will be the

  • Cost reduction of around 30-50 % compared to current production costs.
  • Increase in the lifetime of core systems and key components.
  • Installation and monitoring of 10-20 systems with an overall installed power of 400 – 600 kW depending on the size of the systems in question.
  • Enhanced supply chain and further synergies with spill-over effects to other applications (i.e. microCHP) that contribute to the success of the entire fuel cell industry.
  • Improved visibility within the public sphere, and in particular within relevant stakeholder groups in the field of distributed energy (e.g. system integrators, installers and ESCOs).
  • Further transfer the fuel cell technology into the existing energy industry enabling existing installation and maintenance networks to support FC products.
  • OEM system integrators committed to the development and deployment of high efficient CHP and CCHP products
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. See the information in the Online Manual.

  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 FCH2 JU 2017 Work Plan 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”;
    - “For all Innovation Activities, an additional eligibility criterion has been introduced to limit the FCH 2 JU requested contribution”.

    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.

    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:

Innovation Action:

         6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions 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. See Part L of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.


        8. Additional documents:

FCH2 JU 2017 Work Plan
FCH2 JU Multi Annual Work Plan 
FCH2 JU – Regulation of establishment
Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Horizon 2020 Specific Programme


Additional documents

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