Fuel Cell Today defines stationary fuel cells as units which provide electricity (and sometimes heat) but are not designed to be moved. These include combined heat and power (CHP), uninterruptible power systems (UPS) and primary power units.
CHP units are sized between 0.5 kWe and 10 kWe, use either PEM or SOFC technology and take advantage of the fact fuel cells generate heat alongside electricity. By making use of this heat, for example to make hot water, the overall efficiency of the system increases. Fuel cells are also more efficient at generating electricity which gives CHP units overall efficiencies of 80-95%. Residential CHP units have been deployed extensively in Japan with more than 10,000 cumulative units by the end of 2010 providing home power and heating. South Korea has also deployed CHP units for residential use but, as in Japan, their purchase still relies upon government subsidies.
UPS systems provide a guaranteed supply of power in the event of grid interruption; this market can be divided into five sub-sectors:
- Off-line short run-time systems for telecommunication base stations;
- Off-line extended run-time systems for critical communication base stations such as Terrestrial Trunked Radio (Tetra) networks;
- Off-line extended run-time rack mountable systems for data centres;
- On-line rack mountable systems for data centres;
- Off-line systems for residential use.
Of these five sectors the first three are the most advanced and comprise the majority of shipments to date. Fuel choice varies by region with natural gas and LPG dominating in Asia, hydrogen prevalent in the USA, and in Europe some adopters are trialling methanol.
Large stationary refers to multi-megawatt units providing primary power. These units are being developed to replace the grid, for areas where there is little or no grid infrastructure, and can also be used to provide grid expansion nodes. Four technology types serve the large stationary market: SOFC, MCFC, PEMFC and PAFC. The manufacturing of these units is predominately located in the USA and Japan.