With an opening event attended by representatives of prestigious industry players, local and regional institutions, NOVA, the first European fuel cell cogeneration plant, was presented last 19 October at the Cefla headquarters in Imola; in addition to producing electricity, the new system can produce heat without harmful emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere.
Last November, Cefla had announced its partnership with Bloom Energy for the production and deployment of new Fuel Cell systems that generate electricity without combustion, resulting in zero harmful emissions in line with the decarbonization goals set by the EU. The partnership between Cefla and Bloom Energy is intended to expand the offering of clean energy available to Italian companies, supporting them in their progress towards the goal of energy transition. The new technology allows various sources – e.g. hydrogen, natural gas, biogas and biomethane – to be converted into electric power, without any combustion taking place, reducing CO2 emissions and eliminating all particulate harmful to humans, such as NOx, SOx, CO (acid airborne gases released during combustion processes.)
“Cefla aims to encourage an active debate on issues regarding decarbonization, in order to reduce the carbon footprint and harmful emissions into the atmosphere. The first step in this direction is to help businesses and large infrastructures to generate efficiency. This is how our partnership started with Bloom Energy, a leader in the development of this innovative technology, which has allowed us to develop a complete solution including heat recovery, to respond to any companies’ needs in this field,” explained Gianmaria Balducci, President of Cefla.
The peculiarity of NOVA is the application of solid oxide technology in a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) version, which enables the simultaneous production of heating power and electrical power. Thanks to an absorber, NOVA is also able to work in “cold” mode to produce cooling energy.
Decarbonization, which starts from an energy efficiency enhancing system, is key to achieving the climate protection objectives of the 2030 EU agenda and aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The role of fuel cells is crucial for many industrial sectors, with applications in the cogeneration sector with heat recovery. Fuel cell technology exceeds the efficiency of an endothermic source (engines or turbines) by 25%, power being the same, and also guarantees a degree of electrical efficiency equal to 54% throughout its life cycle with improved control over financials.
“Very often it is precisely our plant engineering and technological choices that ensure our well-being in the places where we live, or determine how efficient those spaces will be, or to what extent our technologically cutting-edge working environment will be able to improve our business,” continues Massimo Milani, Managing Director of Cefla’s Engineering BU. “At a time like today, implementing innovative technologies that guarantee improved efficiency, such as NOVA, is even more strategic, especially if environmental objectives are actively supported. In this energy transition scenario, a number of analysis and consultancy projects are being developed by Cefla with companies that wish to implement strategies aimed at achieving the Net Zero objectives set by the European Union”.
“After the events of the past year, Europe’s business and political leaders know that they must focus on improving energy security”, says Tim Schweikert, Senior Managing Director of International Business Development at Bloom Energy.“We believe that the choice of Bloom’s technology associated with the NOVA system designed by Cefla offers effective solutions for Europe’s new power savings mandate and is an important next step in its eventual energy independence”.
Stefano Bonaccini, President of the Emilia-Romagna Region, concludes: “The ecological transition is a challenge that concerns us all – nobody excluded. The public and private sectors are also called to work side by side to win this challenge, because protecting our planet is a priority that we have committed to for the benefit of future generations. It is, therefore, an excellent sign that a top-class industry player like Cefla, deeply rooted in our territory, has chosen to be the first in Europe to experiment with a cutting-edge plant in the production of clean energy. An excellent sign that is part of the strategy established at an institutional level by the Pact for Work and Climate, within the scope of which the Emilia-Romagna Region has adopted the objectives set by the United Nations 2030 Agenda.”