Ceres Power is to build a fuel cell manufacturing facility in Redhill, Surrey. Manufacturing capacity will initially be 2MW, expandable to 10MW. The firm said it would act as a template to develop larger plants with international partners under licence, growing to 100MWs per year capacity.
The company’s strategy is to generate revenues through licensing its technology to partners in the development phase, and generate royalties through manufacturing partners when full scale commercialisation is achieved, rather than be a large-scale manufacturer itself.
One existing partner is Bosch, which took an equity stake over summer, investing an initial £9m for a 4.4.% share.
Other partners include Nissan, Honda, Cummins and Weichai Power. Ceres said increasing demand from these partners drove its decision to invest in the Redhill facility.
It is working on applications with those partners including a range extender for electric buses with Weichai Power, small power stations with Bosch, EV range extenders with Nissan and data centre power with Cummins.
Ceres said the £7m facility will create 60 new jobs. Chief operating officer James Falla said it would “show that we can scale up to significant volumes efficiently in an appropriate capital investment profile to match increasing customer demand”.
CEO Phil Caldwell recently told The Energyst that the company is working on 10kW modules that are stackable. Running on natural gas, he said they “achieve 60% efficiency from gas in to power out”. Running in CHP mode, “they can run at 85-90% efficiency”.
While the company initially focused on the residential market, Caldwell said demand from the industrial and commercial sector is growing, as fuel cells can deliver onsite power with no emissions.
“People need to understand what this technology can do,” said Caldwell. “Fuel cells are coming, more rapidly in other parts of the world [than in the UK]. That’s because it makes perfect sense. You can generate power from most conventional fuels all the way through to future fuels like hydrogen. Because it is a fuel cell, not combustion, there is no NOx, SOx and particulates, and it is the most efficient way to generate power from fuel,” he said.
“People get excited about batteries, but fuel cells can be part of the solution, across vectors. They can be used to balance and distribute power as the energy system changes, they can help to decarbonise heat using existing gas infrastructure, and they can be used to extend the range of electric vehicles; batteries give you very rapid performance and fuel cells give you range and time.”