Tokyo Gas and Panasonic to Launch Improved Ene-Farm Home Fuel Cell

February 08, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Panasonic Corp. have jointly developed a new model of their "Ene-Farm" home fuel cell. The new product is manufactured by Panasonic, and will be sold by Tokyo Gas from April 1, 2011.

The "Ene-Farm" fuel cell co-generation systems generate electricity through a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and hydrogen extracted from city gas, and the heat generated as a byproduct of this process is also used for home heating and hot water supply. This system is said to be extremely eco-friendly. Since the electricity is generated and used at the same place, there are no losses in transmission. Also, all heat produced during electricity generation can be used without waste. According to the companies, compared to conventional method of using electricity from thermal power plant and hot water supply and heating using city gas, the fuel cell system allows primary energy consumption to be reduced by approximately 35% and CO2 emissions by approximately 48%. Users can cut around 50,000-60,000 yen from annual utility bills, and CO2 emissions by approximately 1.5 tons a year.

The new "Ene-Farm" fuel cell offers a rated generation efficiency of 40% (LHV), representing a further improvement on the existing range of products with over 37% (LHV) efficiency, the highest in the world to date. The system configuration of "fuel cell unit" has been greatly simplified and the core components such as the "stacks" which generate electricity have been significantly downsized. These cost-saving efforts have allowed Tokyo Gas and Panasonic to significantly lower the recommended retail price of the new system to 2,761,500 yen (including tax; excluding installation fee), a saving of as much as around 700,000 yen compared to the current models.

Since the launch of the world’s first "Ene-Farm" products in May 2009 through January 2011, Panasonic has shipped a total of approximately 5,000 units throughout Japan, of which approximately 4,000 have been sold by Tokyo Gas. For Fiscal Year 2012 ending in March 2012 (FY2012), Panasonic will set up a production system to expand the annual capacity more than

6,000 units, double its production estimate for FY2011. At the same time, Tokyo Gas will aim for annual sales of 5,000 units, double the FY2011 sales target of 2,500 units.