Thermoeconomic Optimization of a Hybrid Photovoltaic-Solid Oxide Fuel Cell System for Decentralized Application
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A small-scale, decentralized hybrid system is proposed for autonomous operation in a commercial building (small hotel). The study attempts to provide a potential solution, which will be attractive both in terms of efficiency and economics. The proposed configuration consists of the photovoltaic (PV) and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) subsystems. The fuel cell subsystem is fueled with natural gas. The SOFC stack model is validated using literature data. A thermoeconomic optimization strategy, based on a genetic algorithm approach, is applied to the developed model to minimize the system lifecycle cost (LCC). Four decision variables are identified and chosen for the thermoeconomic optimization: temperature at anode inlet, temperature at cathode inlet, temperature at combustor exit, and steam-to-carbon ratio. The total capacity at design conditions is 70 and 137.5 kWe, for the PV and SOFC subsystems, respectively. After the application of the optimization process, the LCC is reduced from 1,203,266 to 1,049,984 USD. This improvement is due to the reduction of fuel consumed by the system, which also results in an increase of the average net electrical efficiency from 29.2 to 35.4%. The thermoeconomic optimization of the system increases its future viability and energy market penetration potential.