As coal remains a major contributor to global power generation, there is a need for high efficiency low emission technologies. Fuel cells electrochemically convert chemical energy in fuels into electrical energy (and heat) and so can produce power efficiently with low environmental impact. Applications for fuel cells include large scale stationary power generation, distributed combined heat and power (CHP), and portable power. Recently, research has been conducted on direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC) technology which converts the chemical energy in solid carbon directly into electricity. This report discusses these technologies and their development status. For small- to medium-sized stationary power systems and CHP, the USA ranks first for fuel cell capacity and Japan leads for delivery systems. South Korea is home to the world’s largest fuel cell power plant – the 59 MW Gyeonggi Green Energy park in Hwasung City. Deployment of fuel cell systems is driven by support from governments in the form of tax credits and other incentives. For large stationary power generation, current interest is in integrating a coal gasification process with high temperature fuel cells (IGFC) to create ultra-high efficiency, low emissions power generation systems. The first IGFC demonstration plants with CCS may be in Japan in 2021 as a result of the CoolGen project. DCFC is still in its infancy and far from demonstration. The overall challenges for stationary fuel cells are cost and cell durability. Experience gained from researching, designing, building and operating commercially available systems and the IGFC demonstration plant should lead to the further development of the technologies and reduced costs, making them a realistic option for power generation.
Coal and stationary fuel cells, CCC/282