|Table 1. Stationary fuel cells – status of key technologies|
|Simple-cycle electrical efficiency (net AC, LHV)||35%||40%||44%–50%||44%–50%|
|Simple-cycle electrical efficiency on H2 (net AC, LHV)||50%||50%||n/a – needs CO2||40%|
|Hybrid-cycle electrical efficiency on natural gas (net AC, LHV)||Temperature too low||Temperature too low||55%||> 60%|
|Performance degradation on natural gas (% per 1000 hours of operation)||High CO poisoning||> 0.5||> 0.5||
> 0.1 for tubular
by outsourcing operation and maintenance
Many users of cogeneration plants in Europe have decided to outsource plant operation and maintenance to a specialist. David Flin examines the reasons for and the benefits of leaving it to an expert.
One of the advantages of cogeneration plants is that they can use the waste streams of some industrial processes to produce electricity and heat, changing the potential problem and cost of waste disposal into the benefit of on-site power. Also, cogeneration can be used in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, universities, community housing and hotels, among many examples.
However, the owners of such power plants may have limited experience of operating and maintaining them. Their experience and core competence lie in other areas, not in power plant operation and maintenance (O&M). Acquiring that expertise can be costly, especially if the staffing requirements are low. On the other hand, forced outages can be inconvenient and very costly, especially in circumstances where the industrial process is continuous and requires constant, uninterrupted power.
One solution is to use a firm that specializes in O&M services. This enables the contracting firm to make use of expertise that it would be otherwise difficult to acquire. Because the specialist can concentrate expertise, it can provide its service at a reasonable cost.
It is surprisingly difficult to estimate the amount of O&M work that is outsourced. This is partly because different organizations use different definitions for whether work is outsourced or not. Some organizations assume that only long-term contract work can be classified as outsourced O&M. They define work involving just one site visit as simply a one-off contract. Other organizations assume that any work carried out by another company is outsourced O&M. There are also differences in the definition of work classified as O&M. Some organizations assume that any work undertaken on an operating CHP plant is O&M work, others discount the kind of work which upgrades plant, or any work that leaves the plant with a different design. This is based on the premise that such work is upgrade work and is better classified as design and construction rather than O&M. With all these caveats in mind, 30–60% of CHP plants in Europe contract energy management. It is a market that is growing significantly in developing countries.