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Load-Following Strategies for Evolution of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Into Model Citizens of the Grid


Proper converter design can allow solid oxide fuel cells operated as distributed generators to mutually benefit both the load and the electric utility during steady-state conditions, but dynamic load variations still present challenges. Unlike standard synchronous generators, fuel cells lack rotating inertia and their output power ramp rate is limited by design. Two strategies are herein investigated to mitigate the impact of a large load perturbation on the electric utility grid: 1) external use of ultracapacitor electrical storage connected through a dc-dc converter and 2) internal reduction of steady-state fuel utilization in the fuel cell to enable faster response to output power perturbations. Both strategies successfully eliminate the impact of a load perturbation on the utility grid. The external ultracapacitor strategy requires more capital investment while the internal fuel utilization strategy requires higher fuel use. This success implies that there is substantial flexibility for designing load-following fuel cell systems that are model citizens. © 2009 IEEE.

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