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Emission and economic performance assessment of a solid oxide fuel cell micro-combined heat and power system in a domestic building

Elmer, Theo; Worall, Mark; Wu, Shenyi; Riffat, Saffa


Theo Elmer

Senior Research Fellow

Shenyi Wu

Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems


Combined heat and power (CHP) is a promising technological configuration for reducing energy consumption and increasing energy security in the domestic built environment. Fuel cells, on account of their: high electrical efficiency, low emissions and useful heat output have been identified as a key technological option for improving both building energy efficiency and reducing emissions in domestic CHP applications. The work presented in this paper builds upon results currently reported in the literature of fuel cells operating in domestic building applications, with an emission and economic performance assessment of a real, commercially available SOFC mCHP system operating in a real building; under a UK context.

This paper aims to assess the emission and economic performance of a commercially available solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) mCHP system, operating at The University of Nottingham's Creative Energy Homes. The performance assessment evaluates, over a one year period, the associated carbon (emission assessment) and operational costs (economic assessment) of the SOFC mCHP case compared to a ‘base case’ of grid electricity and a highly efficient gas boiler.

Results from the annual assessment show that the SOFC mCHP system can generate annual emission reductions of up to 56% and cost reductions of 177% compared to the base case scenario. However support mechanisms such as; electrical export, feed in tariff and export tariff, are required in order to achieve this, the results are significantly less without. A net present value (NPV) analysis shows that the base case is still more profitable over a 15 year period, even though the SOFC mCHP system generates annual revenue; this is on account of the SOFC's high capital cost. In summary, grid interaction and incubator support is essential for significant annual emission and cost reductions compared to a grid electricity and gas boiler scenario. Currently capital cost is the greatest barrier to the economic viability of the system.


Elmer, T., Worall, M., Wu, S., & Riffat, S. (2015). Emission and economic performance assessment of a solid oxide fuel cell micro-combined heat and power system in a domestic building. Applied Thermal Engineering, 90,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2015
Online Publication Date Apr 18, 2015
Publication Date Nov 5, 2015
Deposit Date May 21, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 21, 2016
Journal Applied Thermal Engineering
Print ISSN 1359-4311
Electronic ISSN 1873-5606
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 90
Keywords Solid oxide fuel cell; Micro-combined heat and power; Domestic; Emission; Economic
Public URL
Publisher URL


REVISION ATE-2014-7542.pdf (448 Kb)

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