Panasonic launched the Panasonic Fuel Cell Development Office Europe (PFCOE) in Langen, Germany. The facility, situated in Panasonic’s European R&D center in Germany (PRDCG), will focus on developing residential fuel cells for the European market in close collaboration with leading European utility companies.
Panasonic has been developing residential fuel cells (micro CHP, combined heating and power) since 1999 and launched the world’s first system, the ENE FARM, in May 2009 in Japan. Following on from the success that it has had in the Japanese market, it now plans to extend its operations into Europe and the R& D center will be a key part of realizing this aim.
The center in Langen will focus on developing and adapting the fuel cells to reflect the different operational conditions between Europe and Japan. As the operation of fuel cells depends on the composition of natural gas, it is necessary for the fuel cell to be adapted to European gas conditions.
The fuel cell micro CHP generates electricity through a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and hydrogen extracted from natural gas (methane, CH4). The heat generated as a by-product of this process is also used for home heating and hot water supplies. In Japan, a house powered by an ENE FARM fuel cell can expect to save about 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions per year compared with a house powered by electricity from thermal power station and a gas heating system.