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Portable fuel cells for backup power during natural disasters to power critical infrastructures

Expected Outcome:

A critical infrastructure is defined as the body of systems, networks and assets that are so essential that their continued operation is required to ensure the security of a given nation, its economy, and the public's health and/or safety its operational safety even in extremities such as natural or human caused disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanoes eruption, massive fires, as well as sabotage or assault resulting emergencies). As such, it is an essential element of society, with specific needs, whose functioning should be preserved, even under exceptional circumstances such as natural disasters.

Currently these needs can be realised by means of portable gensets and/or battery packs. Therefore, it should be ensured that critical infrastructures can be powered using clean alternative energy solutions such as multifuel capable fuel cells, able to reliably provide clean electricity for a sufficiently long timeframe and with highest efficiency.

The demanding operational conditions of systems targeted by the topic will act as a chance for fuel cells-based energy generating systems significantly rising their maturity level and allowing for their further deployment in other areas of the hydrogen economy. Thus, it is necessary to find the means to use the portable robust and long-term autonomous systems based on fuel cells, which, in general, will be quickly integrated into the power system of a critical user and will provide backup power service in an uninterruptible manner. Moreover, as it should also be emphasised that these systems may be spread over, for example, in an area of a disaster affected city, and powering various facilities of different energy needs, the said approach will, as well, stem in the creation of advanced smart management algorithms for distributed microgrids.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • A certified, interoperation-ready (including datalink, powerlink and load prioritisation schemes), system of transportable power generator consisting of at least one generator module and a fuel tank brought in two separate containers;
  • Solutions developed proven in conditions closely resembling these encountered during natural disasters and with real load profiles of exemplary units of critical infrastructure considered;
  • Readiness towards commercialisation of the solution covering possible up-scaling in terms of both repeatable modules (up to min. 10), as well as, systems (min. 5);
  • New services, and service models available for national and international rescue teams compliant with Integrated Situational Awareness and Analysis (ISAA);
  • Breakthrough technology converting the nowadays diesel-based portable power generation to a novel fuel cell-based solution;
  • Contributing to keep European leadership in disaster fighting.

Project results are expected to contribute to the following target-adjusted objectives of the Clean Hydrogen JU SRIA:

  • Improve flexibility of systems in operation in extreme conditions of natural disasters;
  • Prepare and demonstrate the next generation of fuel cells for stationary applications able to run under 100% Hand other H2-rich fuels whilst keeping high performance;
  • Support units using other hydrogen rich fuels of the likes of ammonia, methanol, chemical hydride or liquid organic hydrogen carriers;
  • Support selected fuel cell demos for proving adequate uptime and availabilities.

Furthermore, project results are expected to contribute to the KPIs for fuel cell technology for stationary sector of the Clean Hydrogen JU SRIA:

  • Availability of the system should be no less than 99%;
  • Warm start time should be maximum 10 minutes since the connection;
  • Cold start time should be maximum 90 minutes since the installation (cold start time for the whole system, which can be hybrid solution containing fuel cell and start up battery).

Additional requirements to be competitive to already commercially available gensets and batteries:

  • The fuel cell system is expected to be efficient enough to allow at least 20% increase of the operation time at the same power/load profile as compared to genset of the same volume and weight of fuel;
  • At least 100% increase of the longer operation time at the same power/load profile as the best battery-based portable containerised and commercially available solution using the same volume and weight.

Scope:

The topic focuses on the development and demonstration at an operational environment of a lightweight, robust, containerised and modular zero-emission transportable of at least 50 kWe fuel cell system to power critical infrastructures in the event of a natural disaster. The system should include all balance of plant components needed for operation

The demonstration campaign should include the transportation of the fuel cell system, its installation and test at end-user site for at least 2000 hours of cumulative operation epitomising the real load profiles.

The fuel cell system should:

  • be easily transported, installed and started
  • sustain vibrations and low (-30°C) and high (+50°C) ambient temperature
  • be able to operate with air at low ambient pressure typical for mountain regions and other extreme environmental conditions.
  • be compatible with the specific requirements and norms for transport and operation under relevant harsh environment conditions .

Proposals should address the following:

  • Compact and lightweight containerised contraption including the fuel cell stack and balance of plant components, which can be transported by air, road and sea;
  • Storage of enough fuel to sustain its operations during the emergency state (at least two weeks);
  • Easy refuelling with fast exchange of the fuel storing modules;
  • Simplified plug-and-play approach to minimise the interconnection and installation time;
  • Ability of operation on green hydrogen and at least one other available or easily transportable fuel;
  • Fulfillment of requirements (incl. certification aspects) needed for transport;
  • Modular design with stackable and lifetime prognosis and degradation interoperable 10-50 kWe single modules;
  • Include State of Health analysis at least after operation;
  • Relevance to the respective standards of operation and safety;

This project should continue the efforts concerning the development, certification and industrialization of fuel cells in other projects funded by such us, but not limited to, the Clean Hydrogen JU projects RoRePower and EVERYWH2ERE. The advancements in the current state of the art have to be clearly demonstrated e.g. by proving the interoperability of the modules designed, including the multifuel option, developing a quick refueling capability, as well as, design targeted for highly robust environments.

The consortium should include fuel cell system providers, partners with expertise on power engineering in distributed grids, standards and requirements needed for shipment for containerised operation-ready solutions and at least one end-user for on-site testing and demonstration performed by a tailored combination of hardware, software and virtual reality tools.

When defining the systems architecture proposals should consider that each of particular critical systems of interest is characterised with its own level of embedded uninterruptible power supplies during start-up and transitional operation phases (like switch to another fuel etc.), various energy consumption for balance of plant components, as well as, differing level of losses related to the lack of the continuity of operation.

Proposals should include the development of a strategy for the installation and operation of singular fuel cell systems in a (micro)grid utilising locally existing power supply units. The fuel cell system should be equipped with effective and highly central infrastructure independent tools for digital communication and localisation. In addition to location monitoring, the monitoring of such parameters as the amount of the fuel in the tank, the potential remaining service time (calculated real-time), and electrical parameters such as power, voltage of the system connection system, and the calculated real-time amount of supplied electricity should be considered.

This topic is expected to contribute to EU competitiveness and industrial leadership by supporting a European value chain for hydrogen and fuel cell systems and components.

Proposals should provide a preliminary draft on ‘hydrogen safety planning and management’ at the project level, which will be further updated during project implementation.

For additional elements applicable to all topics please refer to section 2.2.3.2.

Activities are expected to start at TRL 5 and achieve TRL 7 by the end of the project - see General Annex B.

At least one partner in the consortium must be a member of either Hydrogen Europe or Hydrogen Europe Research.

The maximum Clean Hydrogen JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5.00 million – proposals requesting Clean Hydrogen JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

Purchases of equipment, infrastructure or other assets used for the action must be declared as depreciation costs. However, for the following equipment, infrastructure or other assets purchased specifically for the action (or developed as part of the action tasks): fuel cell system, hydrogen storage and other components needed in the portable fuel cell system , costs may exceptionally be declared as full capitalised costs.

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 2.2.3.2 of the Clean Hydrogen JU 2024 Annual Work Plan and in the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023–2024 which apply mutatis mutandis.

Specific Topic Conditions:

 

Activities are expected to start at TRL 5 and achieve TRL 7 by the end of the project - See General Annex B.

General Information

Call Type
EU Horizon Europe
Eligible Country/ies
EU + Horizon Europe associated countries
Call Identifier (if any)
HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2024-04-01
Expected Outcome or Impact
Expected Outcome:
A critical infrastructure is defined as the body of systems, networks and assets that are so essential that their continued operation is required to ensure the security of a given nation, its economy, and the public's health and/or safety its operational safety even in extremities such as natural or human caused disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanoes eruption, massive fires, as well as sabotage or assault resulting emergencies). As such, it is an essential element of society, with specific needs, whose functioning should be preserved, even under exceptional circumstances such as natural disasters.

Currently these needs can be realised by means of portable gensets and/or battery packs. Therefore, it should be ensured that critical infrastructures can be powered using clean alternative energy solutions such as multifuel capable fuel cells, able to reliably provide clean electricity for a sufficiently long timeframe and with highest efficiency.

The demanding operational conditions of systems targeted by the topic will act as a chance for fuel cells-based energy generating systems significantly rising their maturity level and allowing for their further deployment in other areas of the hydrogen economy. Thus, it is necessary to find the means to use the portable robust and long-term autonomous systems based on fuel cells, which, in general, will be quickly integrated into the power system of a critical user and will provide backup power service in an uninterruptible manner. Moreover, as it should also be emphasised that these systems may be spread over, for example, in an area of a disaster affected city, and powering various facilities of different energy needs, the said approach will, as well, stem in the creation of advanced smart management algorithms for distributed microgrids.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

- A certified, interoperation-ready (including datalink, powerlink and load prioritisation schemes), system of transportable power generator consisting of at least one generator module and a fuel tank brought in two separate containers;
- Solutions developed proven in conditions closely resembling these encountered during natural disasters and with real load profiles of exemplary units of critical infrastructure considered;
- Readiness towards commercialisation of the solution covering possible up-scaling in terms of both repeatable modules (up to min. 10), as well as, systems (min. 5);
- New services, and service models available for national and international rescue teams compliant with Integrated Situational Awareness and Analysis (ISAA);
- Breakthrough technology converting the nowadays diesel-based portable power generation to a novel fuel cell-based solution;
- Contributing to keep European leadership in disaster fighting.
Target Groups
Research Institutes, Academia, Small- and Medium Enterprises, Industry, Non-government organisations, Start-Ups
Submission Deadlines
Single fixed deadline
(Next) Submission Deadline
17 April 2024
Type of Funding Instrument
Collaborative Projects / Consortia
Max. funding amount per project [EURO]
8.000.000€
Overall budget for all projects [EURO]
145.000.000€
Horizon Europe project type
Innovation Action (60 - 70% funding - see call text)

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Patric Gerö

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