The combined adoption of solid oxide fuel cells and microturbines has been recently considered for the development of small advanced plants for high efficiency distributed electric power generation. This paper investigates the application of this technology to an independent, small-capacity power plant, which operates in conjunction with a compression heat-pump/chiller system and eventually with an absorption chiller, cogenerating heating, cooling and electric power for a single user like a medium-size commercial building.

Detailed results are presented for both the application of a SOFC+microturbine system and a simple microturbine system, in terms of annual energy balances; they indicate, specially for the SOFC+microturbine systems, high primary energy savings and reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide. A preliminary economic analysis is presented, showing that, in absence of incentives, specific SOFC investment costs as low as 1200 $/kW are required to make economically attractive the adoption of this highly efficient and environmentally benign component.

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