Kassel. During a fuel cell field test that was sponsored by WINGAS, Stadtwerke Aachen (STAWAG) operated a BlueGen fuel cell device in a multi-generation house. Once the project was over, owner Martin Pieren took over the fuel cell and now uses it himself. In the interview, he talks about the benefits of the system and his hopes for the device in the future.
How did you hear about the technology?
STAWAG came to me during a field test. I'd already taken part in a STAWAG pilot project and installed an older fuel cell model in my cellar. Because I'm interested in new technologies, I was happy to take part in another field test. I was also curious to know what the Blue Gen is capable of and how it uses natural gas as a fuel.
What has improved through using the fuel cell?
The fuel cell ran round the clock. For two years, the electricity generated was fed into the electricity network in exchange for payment. The heat produced by the fuel cell also helped to heat water. The system was able to meet the needs of everyone living in the house. It’s really great.
How much money did you save?
In the test phase, my energy costs were reduced by around €400 per year.
What particularly impressed you about fuel cell technology?
The technology is very mature now. The device is extremely reliable and provides a constant supply of electricity and heat. Using the fuel cell also makes me more immune to fluctuating energy prices. That's a major advantage.
What's your verdict after using the device for two years?
My verdict is a very positive one. The fuel cell was a complete success – from planning to installation. The partnership was trouble-free and I wasn't inconvenienced by running the fuel cell – my cellar actually looks much tidier that it used to.
What are your hopes for fuel cell technology in the future?
The technology is developing all the time. I'd like to see even more efficient devices which last longer. It would also be good if you eventually didn't need a second heating system – if the fuel cell could supply all the energy you need. I'm sure there'll be more contracting solutions in the future allowing energy to be made available as necessary via district and neighborhood smart grids.