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World’s First “Ene-Farm” Home Fuel Cell for Condominiums to Be Released

Tokyo, Japan- Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. (President: Tsuyoshi Okamoto, hereafter “Tokyo Gas”) and Panasonic Corporation (President: Kazuhiro Tsuga, hereafter “Panasonic”) today announced the joint development of the world’s first “Ene-Farm” home fuel cell for condominiums*1, 2. The new “Ene-Farm” home fuel cell for condominiums will be sold by Tokyo Gas from April 1, 2014. The product is the first commercialized fuel cell in the world*3 where the fuel cell unit, hot water unit and backup heat source unit can all be stored in the pipe shaft*4 of the condominium.

In comparison to detached houses, condominiums have more restrictions on the conditions for installations. By increasing the airtightness of the unit itself, it has become possible to install the new fuel cell in the pipe shaft in the open hallway*5 of a condominium. In addition, in order to meet the installation standards of condominiums, the legs that anchor the unit have been strengthened, making the fuel cell more earthquake resistant, and measures, such as a modified exhaust structure, have improved the wind resistance of the fuel cell, making installation in the upper floors of a condominium and operation in strong winds possible.

Compared to using electricity from thermal power plants and heating water using city gas*6, the new “Ene-Farm” fuel cell for condominiums reduces primary energy consumption by approximately 37% and CO2 emissions by approximately 49%*7 when operating at the rated electricity generation. In a model case, users can cut around 30,000 to 40,000 yen from their annual utility bills, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by approximately 1.0 ton*8.

Tokyo Gas is aiming for sales of 500 units in FY 2015 (ending March 31, 2015).

In last fiscal year, Tokyo Gas expressed its intention to announce the release of the new fuel cell for condominiums in FY 2014 (ending March 31, 2014). As of Monday October 21, Tokyu Land Corporation and Sohgoh Real Estate have expressed their will to adopt the new fuel cell in condominiums they will sell (2 properties, 456 units)*9.

Through the spread of these “Ene-Farm” products, Tokyo Gas and Panasonic will contribute to bringing greater comfort to their customers’ lives as well as helping to protect the global environment and cutting peak power demand.

Appearance of the product (when installed in the pipe shaft) Example of installation layout (unit: mm) Image of the fuel cell installed in the pipe shaft in an open hallway

Image of the fuel cell installed in the pipe shaft in an open hallway

*1:Development was partially based on results obtained from a project commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

*2:The hot water unit of Ene-Farm and the backup heat source to heat up hot water for home heating and to supply hot water in case no hot water is left in the hot water tank were developed jointly by Tokyo Gas, Gaster Co., Ltd. and Rinnai Corporation.

*3:There have been cases where Ene-Farms for detached homes have been individually modified to comply with standards for installation in condominiums. In such cases, Ene-Farms were installed outside the pipe shaft (in the alcove in front of the entrance). However, the new fuel cell for condominiums has a standard specification that complies with standards for installation in condominiums. The fuel cell unit, hot water unit and backup heat source can all be installed within the pipe shaft.

*4:A pipe shaft is a space to store water and gas pipes that runs vertically through condominium floors. The pipe shaft is usually located beside the entrance in many condominiums.

*5:An open hallway refers to a hallway having residential units on one side, with the other side facing exterior space.

*6:This is a method whereby electricity is supplied by thermal power plants and heat is generated using city gas supplied by Tokyo Gas.

*7:Compared to the method with a rated electricity generation operation of 0.75 kWh and heat recovery volume of 1.08 kWh / approximately 37 liters at 40 degrees Celsius.

*8:Conditions used for estimate:
(1) Primary energy equivalent – Electricity: 9.76 MJ/kWh (Act on Rational Use of Energy), gas: 45 MJ/m³ (Tokyo Gas data), heating efficiency: 80%
(2) CO2 equivalent – Electricity: 0.69 kg-CO2/kWh (Interim Report of Goal Achievement Scenario Subcommittee, Global Environment Committee, Central Environment Council, July 2001), gas: 2.29 kg-CO2/m³ (Tokyo Gas data)

(4) Power demand/power consumption for homes using gas and electricity: 3,643 kWh (Tokyo Gas survey)
(5) Gas charges – conventional system: using “Danran Plan”; Ene-Farm: using “Eco plan with Ene-Farm”. Electricity charges – using “Meter Rate Lighting B” with 40 A contract for both conventional system and Ene-Farm. Gas – electricity charges: estimates calculated based on adjusted unit charges as of January 2013.

*9:Properties intending to adopt the Product:
Sohgoh Real Estate (Property name: (Provisional Title) RENAI SKY PREMIER SHINAGAWA-NAKANOBU: Planned number of units: 100; location: 6 Nishioi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; planned release date: February 2014)
Tokyu Land Corporation (Property name: Branz City Shinagawa Katsushima: Planned number of units: 356; location: 1 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; planned release date: April 2014)

Main Features

(1) Installation possible in pipe shafts
Through measures such improvements in the airtightness of the unit itself and thickened exterior panels, the installation of the fuel cell unit, hot water unit and backup heat source in the pipe shaft in an open hallway has become possible. In addition, the exhaust etc. for the fuel cell unit has been integrated into a single outlet, making installation within the pipe shaft possible, and creating a sense of uniformity when it is installed close to the backup heat source.

(2) Compliance with standards for condominium installation
In order to comply with condominium installation standards, the legs to anchor the main body have been strengthened to improve earthquake resistance. Changes in the structure integrating the intake and exhaust outlet etc. of the fuel cell unit and have reduced the impact of wind pressure to the equipment interior, allowing operation during strong winds of 30 m/s and enabling installation in the upper floors of a condominium.

(3) Compatible with various installation conditions
In addition to installing the fuel cell unit, hot water unit and backup heat source all together in a pipe shaft, it is also possible to install them separately in more than one pipe shaft. By offering multiple exhaust methods for the fuel cell unit and backup heat source and by offering a backup heat source that is slimmer than the standard model, the fuel cell can be installed in various configurations in condominiums.

[Specifications overview]

Launch date April 1, 2014 (scheduled)
Performance Power generation output 200 W – 750 W
Rated generation efficiency 39.0% (LHV), 35.2% (HHV)*10
Rated heat recovery efficiency 56.0% (LHV), 50.6% (HHV)*10
Overall efficiency 95.0% (LHV), 85.8% (HHV)*10
Water tank capacity 147 liters
Dimensions Fuel cell unit H1,750 mm × W399 mm × D395 mm
Hot water unit H1,850 mm × W400 mm × D560 mm
Backup heat source Hot water heater (standard type)
H750 mm × W480 mm × D250 mm
Hot water heater (slim type)
H900 mm × W250 mm × D450 mm
Fuel cell unit 99 kg
Hot water unit 54 kg
Backup heat source Hot water heater(standard type) 44 kg
Hot water heater(slim type) 49 kg
Recommended retail price
(Including tax, not including installation fees)
Open price
Free maintenance support 10 years

*10:LHV is short for Lower Heating Value. Value obtained by subtracting the heat of vaporization of the water vapor from the total heat generated when the gas is fully combusted. (Compared with HHV = Higher Heating Value, HHV

October 21, 2013 - 12:34 PM Comments: Closed

ROBUST – clean and stable backup power with fuel cell

The Robust project demonstrated how fuel cells function in a system for backup power. The demonstration system was developed jointly by two Gothenburg companies; the fuel cell company PowerCell Sweden and FOAB, experts in central safety solutions.

FOAB will implement the demonstration system at one of its large, well known customers,where it will serve as a back up if the main power source fails. The system will also be subjected to scheduled tests.

There are a number of different technologies to choose from among emergency power systems, especially in the power output around 5 kW, which is typical for the application in the Robust project. In addition to operative and environmental benefits, there are currently changes in the legal requirements demanding longer run times in several countries. This also affects the choice of technology and points towards an increased demand for fuel cell back up systems.

This kind of hydrogen-based energy system is an example of fuel cell technology ready for commercialization. Thousands of similar systems have already been installed on commercial basis, mainly in North America. The on-going commercialization of the technology has been preceded by major demonstration projects in which challenges concerning technology, cost, durability and safety have been worked out. The result is a competitive back-up system with a huge global market. More extreme weather conditions calls for an increased dependency on a stable and reliable communication infrastructure and electricity supply, which paves way for a further growing market for fuel cell based back-up.

In addition to PowerCell Sweden and FOAB, Hydrogen Sweden was included in the project. The region Västra Götaland supported the Robust project with the motivation that it is consistent with both the industrial policy and the environmental political visions that the region has formulated.

The region of Västra Götaland has for several years supported the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in the area. The region was early to see hydrogen’s potential in environmental improvements and work opportunities and therefore it is even more pleasant to feature this demonstration in Gothenburg, the capital city of the region.

October 21, 2013 - 6:31 AM Comments: Closed

New Federal Initiatives on Fuel Cells, Aviation Industry

SustainableBusiness.com News–Two new federal initiatives will further fuel cell/ hydrogen research and environmental initiatives in the aviation industry.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is opening a National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center to further development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies.

Housed at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), industry, academics, and government organizations can submit and review their research projects. It’s designed as a first-of-its-kind secure data center to process proprietary data from stakeholders.

The idea is to accelerate commercialization of technologies by strengthening data collection from projects currently operating under real-world conditions, and compare them to technical targets. It does so through aggregated analysis results that show the status and progress of the technology, but do not identify individual companies. Information will be open to the public.

The center will make use of the $10 million High Performance Computing Center, the largest supercomputer dedicated solely to renewable energy research.

In related news, the Department of Transportation announced $13.6 million in grants to advance commercialization of fuel cell buses made in the US. This adds to the $90 million awarded through the Federal Transit Administration’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program since 2006.

This latest round of funding will support eight R&D projects carried out by partnerships of local transit agencies and corporations.

The biggest award, $4.2 million will be used to develop and demonstrate smaller, less expensive fuel cells that can be used in combination with batteries on a hybrid platform. California’s Sunline Transit Agency is working with industry partners, ElDorado National and BAE Systems.

$3.1 million goes for developing fuel cell buses that can run in cold climates and $1.8 million will be used to test long-term operation and performance of fuel cell buses at Oakland-based AC Transit, which has the biggest fuel cell fleet in the US.

Air Transportation Center of Excellence

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is opening the Air Transportation Center of Excellence to help the airline industry move forward on energy and environmental issues, such as climate change, noise and air pollution.

Prime areas of research will be new aircraft technologies and clean jet fuels.

The university-led Center will be led by Washington State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and will be joined by many other university partners: Boston University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, University of Dayton, University of Illinois/ Urbana-Champaign, University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Tennessee.

Some of the many industry partners are: Airbus, Boeing, Alaska Airlines – the most efficient airline - Delta Air Lines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, Honeywell, and biofuel developers Gevo and KiOR.

Under the cost-shared program, FAA will contribute $40 million over 10 years. It has set a target of 1 billion gallons of clean  jet fuel in use by 2018.

October 21, 2013 - 5:18 AM Comments: Closed

Fuel Cell Systems expects growing demand

FCS will be demonstrating its EFOY fuel cells at this year's Southampton Boat Show on stand D042FCS will be demonstrating its EFOY fuel cells at this year’s Southampton Boat Show on stand D042

- See more at: http://www.boatingbusiness.com/news101/industry-archives/fcs-sees-growing-demand#sthash.I2NR80yx.dpuf

boatingbusiness.com–Fuel Cell Systems (FCS) is gearing up for an increase in demand as more and more boat owners look to fuel cells as a preferred choice of onboard power for marine applications

The lightweight, compact and virtually silent design enables owners to provide additional home comforts without draining onboard batteries. They can also give yacht racers an added advantage due to reduced weight.

Tom Sperrey, CEO, Fuel Cell Systems, said: “Every second counts for owners of racing yachts and one of the best ways to increase speed is to reduce the amount of onboard weight. Carrying large amounts of diesel fuel and too many batteries will impact the performance of a boat.”

“Fuel cells are lightweight and compact, occupying only a small space on board. This isn’t technology of the future. Fuel cells are available now and I believe they will soon become standard for all classes of maritime vessels,” he added.

Fuel cells allow the batteries to be kept fully charged for longer without the noise and pollution of using the onboard diesel engine.

FCS says they also ensure battery life is extended because the batteries enjoy a steadier voltage than with other forms of charging, thereby saving money over time.

The company will be demonstrating the latest range of EFOY Comfort methanol and hydrogen-powered fuel cells at this year’s Southampton Boat Show on stand D042 in the Windward Hall from 13 to 22 September 2013.

October 21, 2013 - 4:03 AM Comments: Closed