Countries come together to boost micro CHP

The United Kingdom is working on the same task as Japan, Germany and South Korea to promote the economic and environmental benefits of micro CHP technology to the mainstream energy markets.

They are all fielding aggressive efforts to bring the method of producing electricity and heat into the global energy arena on a larger scale. Micro CHP systems are becoming increasingly popular as a way of heating homes and small offices and providing electricity for them at the same time, but there is more that can be done.

Forbes reports on Japan’s Energy Farm program, which has been described as “the most successful residential micro-CHP fuel cell project to date” by Dan Carter, fuel cell
analyst at Fuel Cell Today.

The national micro CHP initiative is led by companies including Toshiba, JX Energy and Panasonic and focuses on the smaller end of the system – 1 kW micro CHP units designed for single-family homes.

According to the country’s government, these appliance-scale stationery fuel cells are one of the 21 key technologies of the future. Japan has only a small presence in larger fuel cell technologies – Fuji Electric is the only company making fuel cells larger than 100 kW.

The Ene-Farm program for residential micro CHP systems was launched in 2000 and focused on technology verification in the early years. In 2005 it evolved into a large-scale
demonstration project with 10 industrial partners developing sales channels.

Primarily marketed to new homes, nearly 3,000 micro CHP systems were installed during the first stage and in 2009 the project evolved still further into a major commercialisation program.

In the past three years some 20,000 systems have been installed, and the figure is set to continue growing.

“The spectacular growth in sales to date is expected to continue, and in 2012 it is hoped almost 20,000 units will be sold, rising to a sales target of 50,000 units per year by 2015,” according to Mr Carter’s analysis in Fuel Cell Residential Micro-CHP Developments in Japan.

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