Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration is a technology with great potential to help address the challenges of the energy trilemma – the ability to provide secure and low-carbon energy at affordable prices. Fuel cells run on hydrogen and produce heating and electricity on location. The use of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration heavily reduces the strain on the national electricity grid, opening opportunities for system savings. Furthermore, significant cost reductions are anticipated once Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration units will reach mass market volumes. These features make it one of the most promising technologies in the energy sector. Therefore, the PACE project calls upon the British government to continue support for Fuel Cell micro- Cogeneration via the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) scheme which is due to expire on 31 March 2019.
The United Kingdom has made substantial progress in building a successful renewable energy industry as part of a low-carbon economy. Installed capacity of renewable electricity generation has more than quadrupled since the end of 2010, from 9.3GW to 38.9GW at the end of 2017. These numbers help the UK in meeting its carbon reduction and renewable energy targets. The FiT scheme was introduced to support the widespread adoption of small-scale (up to 5MW) low-carbon electricity-generating technologies. It was intended to give the general public a stake in the energy transition and bring about behavioural change to support the development of local supply chains and reducing energy costs. Following a review in 2017, the scheme provided support to about 7.680 micro-Cogeneration installations per year with a capacity of less than 2kWel.
In terms of solar panels, the numbers are impressive with over 800,000 installations that total 6 GW of installed capacity. Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration installations are currently far from attaining similar numbers under the same FiT scheme. This is largely due to an unprepared market and a technology in development. However, as the technology has just reached maturity and is ready for a full roll-out, the timing of the withdrawal from this FiT scheme could not come at a worse time. Without this scheme, potential Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration customers would lose out on additional savings of up to £7,000 over a period of 10 years, a measure needed to give this promising technology a necessary push forward to compete with other better-established technologies.
We strongly encourage the British government to reverse its decision to disengage with the FiT scheme for Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration. It would run counter to the government’s efforts to lconsider hydrogen and fuel cells as long-term options for decarbonising the country. Unlike other technologies that have received strong support under the FiT scheme, the fuel cell industry has a strong base in the UK. Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration has the potential to deliver not only carbon savings but also a knowledge-based industry that provides highly skilled technical jobs, new applications, and export potential. It is now time to send a message of support to the market and ensure that households can enjoy one of the most efficient decentralised power generating technologies. The PACE project and the Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration industry are ready to engage with the British government to find ways to keep the FiT scheme in place for our technology or to search alternative means of policy support, beyond March 2019.