Octopus Investments has announced an investment of £2 million into Diverse Energy Limited, a company that builds an emission-free, low-cost advanced PEM fuel cell power solution for mobile phone communication towers in rural areas of developing countries.  Diverse Energy has developed the PowerCube™, a stand-alone replacement for the polluting diesel generators currently used as remote power supplies for mobile phone towers where electricity is not available. It delivers power in a highly efficient way with low fuel and maintenance costs, thus offering a 25% reduction in total cost of ownership with a two-year payback.  The Company has designed an innovative, proprietary technology that allows the PowerCube to utilise ammonia as a fuel. When compared to traditional diesel generators, the PowerCube provides an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 74% reduction in energy use, and eliminates both local noise and air pollution.  The investment provided by Octopus will enable the company to be able to complete the assembly plant and expand rapidly to fulfil orders and serve its large export market.

Entering the growing low carbon energy market

Luke Hakes, from Octopus, commented:  “Diverse Energy is entering an exciting development phase and we recognise the Company’s unique position in the growing green energy market.  There has been a considerable amount of hype about fuel cells for off grid applications, but to date we have found no other company which has combined the necessary technology, fuel infrastructure and service agreements to take this proposition to market.  As we partner with Diverse Energy to provide more than just funding, we look forward to watching this pioneering company build into a market leader.”

“This is a monumental day for the Diverse Energy Team” said Dr Alastair Livesey, Managing Director of Diverse Energy.  “Through hard work and with the help of numerous partners, including the Technology Strategy Board, Carbon Trust, Afrox, Centre for Process Innovation Teesside, Leading Light, Balton CP, Artemis Power, Nedstack and the University of Michigan MAP program, we are realizing the vision of our founders and early investors.  This investment will enable Diverse Energy to complete the transition from development to a fully commercial manufacturing organization.  In Octopus we have found a partner who is not only funding us but also helping us realize an ambitious roll-out programme.”

The company was launched in 2007 by a team of energy and telecommunications professionals with over twelve years experience in the development of fuel cell technology and with collectively over 100 years of energy industry experience.  Diverse Energy is headquartered in West Sussex, UK, but operates internationally. Its management team consists of a highly qualified, mix of sustainable energy scientists, engineers, management specialists, investors and automotive engineers from a former Le Mans F1 GT pit crew. Their mission is to develop clean, low cost, secure power plants to replace diesel generators in selected applications.  During 2009, the company launched its flagship product, PowerCube™, which now uses 8th generation fuel cell technology.  Highlights of Diverse Energy’s performance include: the first fuel cell powered exhibition stand in 2001, powering the first fuel cell house in the UK in 2004 and powering the first fuel cell house in India in 2007. Diverse Energy is part funded by the UK Carbon Trust and the Technology Strategy Board and has won numerous awards, including the UK Government iAward for innovation in 2009 and the Energy Institute Award for innovation in 2010.

Fuel Cell Powercubes for Africa

Diverse Energy has shipped to Africa the first fuel cell ‘Powercube’ a fully commercial power plant fuelled by anhydrous ammonia.  The Powercube will provide electricity for off-grid cell phone towers.

This is the first of seventeen PowerCubes to be assembled and deployed under a UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) ‘Ammonia for Power’ grant program.  At the Diverse Energy facility in West Sussex, TSB Project officer, Christine Foster, named the PowerCube ‘Ainra’ meaning ‘Lasting Power’ in Swahili.  One PowerCube is being used for local testing and the remaining fifteen will be shipped to Africa to prove the viability of the system in all regional climates and familiarize mobile network operators with the technology.

Ammonia infrastructure study

A “Multidisciplinary Action Project” (MAP) team from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan carried out a detailed ammonia infrastructure study for Diverse Energy and Afrox Oxygen Limited (Afrox), a member of the Linde Group and the largest industrial gases and welding company in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study verified and documented that the existing Afrox ammonia distribution chain has the excess capacity necessary to support initial sales of PowerCubes, and also identified PowerCube deployment “break points” on a country-by-country basis when additional ammonia infrastructure investment will be needed. The study also provided external verification that the PowerCube represents a disruptive, fast growing, and highly profitable business opportunity for Afrox.   According to the International ammonia market intelligence monitor, FMB Group, over 100 million metric tons of ammonia are consumed annually, primarily as fertilizer. 2.4 million metric tons of ammonia would be required if all existing off grid cellular phone towers were converted from diesel generators to PowerCubes.  http://www.diverse-energy.com

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