The Department of Infrastructure of the Isle of Man Government has signed an agreement to participate in the HOST trials.  The Department of Infrastructure is responsible for maintaining and developing much of the Isle of Man’s key infrastructure, including the highways network, harbour and port facilities, planning and building control and the Island’s key Government buildings including the Sea Terminal, Airport, Energy from Waste Plant and Animal Waste Processing Plant. Through its Operations Division, the Department provides a direct labour organisation which carries out essential works to the infrastructure and also maintains a 24 hour a day emergency response capability for the Island.  Commenting for ITM Power, CEO Graham Cooley said: “We are thrilled that the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure will be joining our HOST trials. This is an exceptional opportunity to test our energy storage and clean fuel technology proposition for vehicle fleets operating in an island environment. Islands by their nature rely on imported fuel; our hydrogen trials will demonstrate how an island can produce its own clean fuel, offering a sustainable transport solution for the vital infrastructure logistics fleet.”  Keith Lowney, Fleet Transport Manager for the Department of Infrastructure on the Isle of Man, added: “We welcome the opportunity to trial ITM’s hydrogen refueling station for ‘return to base’ operated vehicles. This is particularly appropriate given the geography of the island – 32 miles long by 10miles at its widest – as this will be relevant to most of our infrastructure fleet. Of particular interest will be how as an Island we can generate our own clean fuel from our ample sources of renewable energy.”



BlueGen Units for the UK

Three BlueGen gas-to-electricity generators have been sold to one of the UK’s leading energy companies, E.ON.   One BlueGen will be installed in early 2011 at the E.ON training centre in Tipton, West Midlands, where E.ON’s Property Services department trains its staff in the installation and maintenance of gas and electrical appliances. The other two BlueGen units will be installed at demonstration sites.

Due to its high electricity to heat ratio, each BlueGen unit can produce three times the electricity needed to power an average UK home, as well as enough heat to satisfy its needs for hot water.  Ceramic Fuel Cells is continuing to make progress towards having BlueGen certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, in order to access the UK Government’s feed in tariff.   This pays 10 pence for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generated by small scale co-generation products, plus an additional 3 pence for every kWh of electricity sold back to the local power grid.

In parallel with installing three BlueGen units, Ceramic Fuel Cells and E.ON are continuing to develop fully integrated power and heating products for the UK market. In this project, integrated units are being installed with appliance company Gledhill and in a test house with EA Technology. Under a product development agreement, Ceramic Fuel Cells and E.ON have agreed the development stages to move into production of commercial units and they are currently discussing the details for the next phase of product development and deployment.

200 fuel cell mCHP units

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd has received a conditional order for up to 200 integrated power and heat generators from German energy service provider EWE, which will generate revenue of up to 4.9 million Euros over two years.   The integrated units use Ceramic Fuel Cells’ patented technology to convert natural gas into electricity and heat, with the world’s highest level of electrical efficiency. EWE will install the units in homes in the Lower Saxony region in northern Germany in order to provide the homes with low emission electricity, hot water and heating. The order is conditional on EWE receiving partial funding under the German government’s national hydrogen and fuel cell technology innovation program. This program is providing 700 million Euros between 2008 and 2018 and a decision is expected in early 2011.   Subject to EWE obtaining the Government funding and to the units meeting agreed performance targets, EWE will order 70 units for delivery in 2011 and 130 units for delivery in 2012.

“This is a significant follow-on order from EWE, and it will see us selling many more of the integrated products we have developed with EWE and our local partner Bruns,” said Brendan Dow. “We are confident that the German government will support the project and we look forward to continuing to deploy products with EWE, our longest-standing customer and partner. We are also encouraged by the very strong interest in our low emission products in Germany.”   Ceramic Fuel Cells will supply the core Gennex fuel cell module and related components and, together with their local manufacturing partner, Gebrüder Bruns Heiztechnik GmbH, they will integrate the fuel cell module with a boiler into a power and heating product for supply to EWE.

Developing the market

Ceramic Fuel Cells has signed an agreement with Adelaide-based Hills Holdings Limited for Hills to sell and service Ceramic Fuel Cells’ BlueGen gas-to-electricity units, initially in South Australia. Hills will also provide installation and after-sales service for BlueGen products Australia-wide and will help Ceramic Fuel Cells to develop the market for BlueGen.  Hills has a wide range of businesses in three major categories: home, hardware and eco products; electronic security and entertainment; and building and industrial products.  “We are delighted to have signed this agreement with Hills, an iconic Australian company in the home hardware and eco products market,” said Brendan Dow. “Hills designs, develops and makes its own appliances and solar products, so there are also longer term strategic opportunities for us to collaborate on the BlueGen manufacturing and supply-chain side. This agreement represents a further validation of our BlueGen product and what it can achieve in the energy market.”

The agreement is in line with Ceramic Fuel Cells’ strategy to sell BlueGen units in Australia through distributors and to outsource the installation and service of BlueGen units. The agreement with Hills follows similar BlueGen distribution agreements with green products retailer Neco, based in Melbourne, and Harvey Norman’s Commercial Division, in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian market for BlueGen is estimated to be several hundred thousand units – the number of households connected to natural gas is more than three million.


A state-of-the-art demonstration and research facility powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond as he visited the £4.7 million facility in Methil, Fife.  The facility, known as the Hydrogen Office, houses a hydrogen production system that captures surplus energy from a wind turbine, stores it as hydrogen and then uses a high efficiency fuel cell to generate electricity from the stored energy when required. The system was developed by the Pure Energy Centre in Unst, Shetland Islands.  With a renewables resource unparalleled in Europe, the technology is recognised to have significant potential to further leverage Scotland’s renewable energy reserves.

First Minister Alex Salmond opened the Hydrogen Office with Derek Mitchell, Project Manager, Adrian Gillespie of Scottish Enterprise and Dr Daniel Aklil of the Pure energy Centre (left to right)  Alex Salmond said: “This is a hugely exciting development for Fife and for Scotland’s low carbon industries as we work together to forge the new green economy.  The Hydrogen Office is playing a leading role in the development of a range of carbon-cutting technologies – from the provision of clean energy for electricity, heat and transport to storing renewable power from other sources such as wind, as demonstrated at the site.” About a third of Scotland’s electricity is already generated by renewables and, last autumn, the First Minister raised the national renewable energy target for 2020  to 80% of gross electricity consumed.

Derek Mitchell, Project Manager of the Hydrogen Office added : “The opening of the Hydrogen Office project by the First Minister marks the completion of the first phase of this exciting project.  Scotland has the potential to produce far more renewable energy than it currently generates for all its electrical needs; yet because we can’t control when we generate energy from some renewable sources this huge potential is still limited. There is no need for such a limit and this breakthrough charts the future to realising Scotland’s full potential.   Storing wind energy as hydrogen; which we can do in large quantities and for long periods, means we can then use this energy for virtually anything, including in our cars, our cooking, our homes and offices. We can do this without generating any pollution or carbon dioxide and we can use this energy regardless of whether the wind is blowing.” Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said that this highly innovative, low carbon energy facility offers high spec, energy efficient office space to encourage the development of renewable technologies.  It will serve as an international demonstration centre for renewable and hydrogen energy technology, capturing a share of the £3 trillion global low carbon market.”

Since commissioning last September, the 750kW turbine has exported over 350,000kilowatt hours (kWh) to the National Grid and over the course of a year, it will not only generate sufficient electricity and hydrogen for the heating and lighting requirements of the Hydrogen Office, but is also expected to export sufficient electricity to meet the annual energy demands of the Methil Docks Business Park.   The Hydrogen Office is part of  the Energy Park, a 134-acre site strategically located close to the new offshore wind farm leasing sites in the North Sea.   Fife’s flagship Energy Park, is expected to become one of Europe’s leading locations for innovation and development of renewable technology.

Up to 10 times Scotland’s electricity requirements

This world-leading energy solution will help reduce the impact of climate change and support the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets, which could see Scotland producing up to 10 times its own electricity requirements in a generation.  Scotland has a competitive advantage in renewable power sources and the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across the energy sector can help accelerate the achievement of a truly low carbon economy – supporting skilled jobs in Scotland and helping protect the planet for generations to come.”

The Hydrogen Office is a partnership project involving Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Alsherra Investments Ltd, Fife Council, the Scottish Government and the Energy Saving Trust.


Buy only the electricity with Bloom Electrons service

Bloom Energy® has announced a new service, Bloom Electrons℠, which enables customers to purchase electricity provided by the Bloom Box without incurring any other costs.   Customers can lock in their electricity rates for 10 years, delivering fixed predictable costs and significant savings versus the grid. Bloom manages and maintains the breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell systems on the customers’ sites and the customers pay only for the electricity consumed. This allows immediate cost savings with no initial investment, making onsite clean, reliable, affordable energy more accessible. The Bloom Electrons Service has generated tremendous customer interest, with more than 20MWs of power (200 systems) already secured to provide electricity to new and repeat customers.

Under the Bloom Electrons service, customers can immediately save up to 20% on their energy bills. In today’s economy, it is very appealing for companies to have freedom of choice, to either purchase the Bloom Box or utilize the Bloom Electrons service, while achieving savings under either program.  Coupled with the opportunity to have cleaner, more reliable on-site electricity, this makes Bloom Electrons a compelling economic and environmental choice.

Transforming the energy landscape

Amongst the first Bloom Boxes to be installed were those at EBay.  The new Bloom Electrons service has generated tremendous interest with both existing and new customers. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy said “Bloom Electrons is about providing universal access to clean, reliable, affordable energy.  Empowering our customers to buy energy on their own terms is another significant step on our journey to change the way energy is generated and consumed in the world. More and more companies are making a conscious decision to embrace energy innovation and the Bloom Electrons service gives them a unique opportunity to accelerate economic and environmental impacts on a larger scale. We take immense pride in our valued customers, whose repeat business demonstrates their confidence in our business and we are thrilled to welcome our new customers.”

Financial flexibility backed by Credit Suisse

Fuel choices such as natural gas or biogas allow customers to manage their carbon footprint and the modularity of the Bloom Box enables the technology to be scaled for specific sites. Now Bloom Electrons gives customers financial flexibility as well. Customers can continue to buy Bloom Boxes as a capital purchase, or choose to sign up for the Bloom Electrons service. Bloom Energy created this program in collaboration with Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank. Jerry L. Smith, managing director at Credit Suisse, said “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Bloom Energy to structure Bloom Electrons, a unique service to secure baseload electricity. Bloom Energy has developed a technology that can transform the energy landscape and we look forward to supporting Bloom throughout its growth.”

Meeting customers’ environmental and economic objectives

The immediate financial and environmental benefits of the Bloom Electrons service have generated tremendous customer interest. The 20MWs of power (200 systems) already secured is equivalent to providing clean, reliable power for 20,000 American homes 24/7/365.  Repeat customers, including the Coca-Cola Company, Staples Inc. and Walmart, are joined by several new customers, such as California Institute of Technology, Kaiser Permanente, and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company).

Walmart already has 400 kW of Bloom Box systems in operation at two Southern California retail locations and is in the process of expanding deployments to additional stores through the Bloom Electrons service. “Walmart’s first two Bloom Energy installations are helping reduce our carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment, while providing reliable, renewable energy at competitive prices. The Bloom Electrons service will allow us to grow our use of this technology and move closer to our company-wide goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy, Walmart.

The Coca-Cola Company is operating 500kW of Bloom Boxes at its plant in Dinuba, CA, which has allowed the facility to generate 30% of its power needs using biogas. Through the Bloom Electrons service, Coca-Cola will be deploying Bloom Boxes at additional manufacturing facilities, as part of its ongoing commitment to operating a sustainable business.  Staples Inc is continuing to focus on environmental leadership and operating costs and, following upon the success of their first deployment of Bloom Boxes, the company will be deploying more fuel cells at additional large facilities and distribution centers through the Bloom Electrons service. “The Bloom Box installation at our Ontario CA distribution center has demonstrated that we can reduce both our environmental footprint and operational costs,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of Environmental Affairs for Staples. “Through the Bloom Electrons service we now have the flexibility to buy only the electrons and continue to achieve even greater environmental and economic success at more of our large facilities and distribution centers.”

A healthy environment

BD was seeking a clean energy solution for its BD Biosciences facility in San Jose, CA, that provided reliable energy costs and decreased dependency on the electricity grid. This project supports BD’s efforts to use onsite energy generation and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  “As a global healthcare company, BD believes that a healthy environment is essential to human health, and we must do our part to minimize our impact on climate change. Working with Bloom Energy to install these fuel cells through the Bloom Electrons service is an important example of BD’s commitment to using innovative energy solutions in our global operations,” said Glenn Barbi, vice president, BD Office of Global Sustainability.

Kaiser Permanente aspires to provide health care services in a manner that protects and enhances the environment now and for future generations. “Kaiser Permanente recognizes that the health of the environment directly affects individual and community health,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president and Environmental Stewardship Officer at Kaiser Permanente. “By expanding the use of clean energy through solutions like the Bloom Electrons service, Kaiser Permanente is demonstrating its commitment to greening its energy portfolio and reducing its carbon footprint.”

Service also helps non-profit organizations

Bloom Electrons is a service that opens the door to new types of customers such as non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and utilities. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is one of the first to benefit from the Bloom Electrons service with a 2MW installation. “Bloom Energy enables Caltech to more effectively carry out its core mission of research and education by providing cleaner, more economical and predictable power, which ultimately helps us achieve our strategic infrastructure and sustainability goals,” said Dean Currie, vice president for Business & Finance at Caltech.

Now a market reality

Bloom’s fuel cell production facility is meeting the demand of existing and new customers.  To date, Bloom Energy’s fuel cells have supplied customers with over 40 million kilowatt-hours and eliminated approximately 45 million pounds of CO2 emissions.  The Southern California Gas Company is a critical partner in completing customer projects.  “We are thrilled to partner with Bloom Energy to bring this innovative technology from a vision to a market reality,” said Michael W. Allman, President and CEO of Southern California Gas Company. “These fuel cells build on the important role natural gas plays today in delivering clean reliable energy by enabling the production of power on a continuous low emissions basis using renewable natural gas – something we hope to make central to the renewables dialogue through projects like this.” Bloom Electrons, and the 200 new systems that will initially be deployed, represent the next step on the path to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to everyone in the world.


Life without oil!

Microcab has opened its new factory unit in Coventry, where they are building their new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, branded the H2EV. Partners in the project include Lotus Lightweight Structures, who jointly developed the new chassis for the vehicle. The new range is available as a 4-seater car, light van or taxi and can have either a hydrogen fuel cell drive train or a pure battery EV drive, depending on the user’s requirements and their access to refuelling infrastructure.

Eight of the new vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell drive are currently being built for the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Demonstrator project (CABLED).  This is part of a UK wide trial in which 300 low carbon vehicles will be made available to users and data are recorded to help understand how they are used in everyday life.  The design of the 4-seater, 3-door urban vehicles is completely new, resulting from work with Delta Motorsport, RDM Automotive and Lotus, as part of a Niche Vehicle Network-funded project. The vehicles are due to go on the road in April 2011.

Microcab employs lightweight construction techniques and fuel cell hybrid power trains with electric drive for light transport operations in urban and suburban areas. The hybrid power train architecture combines the power capability of a lithium-ion battery with the energy capability of a hydrogen fuel cell to achieve the necessary vehicle performance with ultra-low energy usage and zero emissions.

Higher temperature PEM fuel cells

Microcab is working with Serenergy A/S of Denmark, which is supplying a system module comprising their Serenus fuel cell, its control system, and power-conditioning circuitry for the hybrid battery and electric drive. Serenergy was the only European company to commercialise high temperature PEM technology which is used in its fuel cells, and which Microcab considers advantageous for its targeted automotive applications. Compared with the commonly used low temperature PEM technology, Serenus fuel cells have a higher internal temperature of 150°C or more, enabling them to operate over a wider range of environmental temperatures, and to use less pure hydrogen fuel. Furthermore, the high temperature exhaust greatly facilitates the use of otherwise wasted thermal energy for heating the vehicle interior, thus increasing overall system efficiency. Serenergy is supplying Serenus 3kW fuel cell systems for use in Microcab’s demonstration fuel cell hybrid vehicles.

Microcab and its associates will initially manufacture 8 vehicles to the new design, which will be supplied to Coventry University for participation in a 12-month trial as part of the CABLED project. These will be the only hydrogen vehicles in the UK low carbon vehicle trials, which are funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Transport Minister previews hydrogen fleet

During a visit to a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuelling station at the University of Birmingham, Transport Minister, Mike Penning, asserted that hydrogen vehicles will be part of the future transport mix and that the UK must not focus only on battery electric vehicles. “A one size fits all approach to low carbon vehicles simply isn’t feasible. In order for the UK to decarbonise road transport, a mix of technologies, including hydrogen, has to be considered,” he stated. Mike Penning saw the Air Products Series 100 fuelling station and witnessed the fuelling of one of the University’s fleet of hydrogen powered vehicles. The Minister was also able to drive a hydrogen powered Microcab and see how the technology works in practice. After the drive, he added “I am delighted to see first-hand today Air Products and the University of Birmingham driving forward hydrogen fuel technology. It’s state of the art technology like this that will help drive the British economy in years to come.”   The Minister was also shown around the University’s research facility and given a sneak preview of the new hydrogen powered Microcab design!

Launch of third hydrogen station

Dave Wright of Coventry University cut the ribbon to launch the third hydrogen fuel cell station in the Midlands. Christina Fell, Senior Engineer at ARUP, refuelled a vehicle.   Air Products latest Series 100 hydrogen fuelling station is based at Coventry University’s TechnoCentre. The hydrogen station complements those in Birmingham and Loughborough, as part of the British Midlands ‘Hydrogen Ring’.  These fuelling facilities in the Midlands will form the heart of a planned UK hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. Air Products’ Series 100 fuelling station won the Rushlight Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Industry award in 2010.

Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South, attended the launch and commented: “This is yet another example of the commitment to research and development at Coventry University.   The West Midlands is known throughout the country for its innovation and high skill level and we need to ensure that we remain at the forefront of research and development by encouraging the development of low carbon infrastructure.”   Ian Williamson, European Hydrogen and Bio Energy Director at Air Products,  said, “The new facility at Coventry University strategically links three cities in the Midlands with hydrogen fuelling stations and will prove to be a vital step towards the creation of a low carbon hydrogen transport infrastructure for the UK.   For members of the public to be able to trial hydrogen cars for the first time on the Midlands’ roads is a hugely exciting development.  It demonstrates that this low carbon technology is available today and with the right fuelling infrastructure, can be used across the country.”   John Latham, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Business Development at Coventry University, added: “Coventry University’s new hydrogen fuelling station and our ongoing investment and research into low emissions related automotive technologies underlines our commitment to providing state-of-the-art expertise to help grow Britain’s low carbon economy.”


ITM Power’s Hydrogen on Site Trials (HOST) will commence with a launch event at the Hilton Hotel at London Stansted Airport on the 8th March. During the trial, hydrogen produced by the on-site HFuel system will power two Ford Transit vans, which will form part of the airport’s fleet and will be assessed by staff under every-day driving conditions.   Britain’s third busiest airport will be the first UK company to test the HFuel and two specially adapted vehicles, as part of ITM Power’s nationwide Hydrogen On Site Trials programme (HOST).  This pioneering new green fuel technology could drive down emissions and power the airport vehicles of the future.

Dr Andy Jefferson(left),  Stansted Airport’s head of health, safety and environment, said “Environmental management at London Stansted is critical to the sustainability of our business and is an issue that we take extremely seriously, so we’re delighted to be working with ITM Power to launch their ground-breaking Hydrogen On Site Trial project”   Dr Graham Cooley (right), CEO of ITM Power, added: “HOST will be the largest multi-sector trial of hydrogen refuelling for transport in the UK, involving 20 major partner organisations. Airports are perfect locations for trialling ‘return to base’ hydrogen refuelling and we are delighted that London Stansted airport will be the location from which we launch the HOST program.” Those wishing to attend this ground-breaking event can register their interest by visiting


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.


Adelaide City Council has combined green energy with new technology for the city’s environmentally aware shoppers.  Together with the State Government, the Council has installed an electric vehicle charging station at the Central Market car park that is supplied by locally generated low-emission electricity.  Adelaide Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood said that,  in what is believed to be a world first, the public charging station is powered by an innovative Australian-developed fuel cell from Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. This enables city shoppers to recharge their electric vehicles from low emission sources rather than carbon intensive power from the electricity grid. The Central Market in Adelaide is owned and run by the Adelaide City Council and is South Australia’s most visited tourist attraction.

The new station is free to users and can charge two vehicles at a time.  The ChargePoint recharging station’s 2kW BlueGen ceramic fuel cell will be able to generate at least 12,500 kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year. This is enough to power the average South Australian home and two electric cars travelling 15,000 kilometres each per year. Excess power not required for vehicle recharging will be fed into the grid.

“This initiative reinforces the City of Adelaide’s role as a leader in environmental sustainability and new technology,” Stephen Yarwood said.  “This project is a sign of things to come as we move towards a cleaner and greener future for our beautiful city.”   Brendan Dow, Ceramic Fuel Cells Managing Director, added:  “We are excited to have a BlueGen unit at Adelaide Central Market and we are thrilled that the Capital City Committee has recognised BlueGen’s potential to power electric cars.  BlueGen is an ideal companion technology to electric vehicles.”


The current international situation

The International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook says that the age of cheap oil is over.   If we begin to change now to more efficient use of oil and the development of alternatives, then there could be a smooth transition to future clean energy technologies.  On the other hand if governments do nothing, or little more than at present, then demand for oil will continue to increase, supply costs will rise, the economic burden of oil use will grow, vulnerability to supply disruptions will increase and the global environment will suffer serious damage.

The scenarios in the World Energy Outlook are the New Policies Scenario (NPS), which assumes that governments carry out the new policies and measures announced by countries around the world and the 450 Scenario which proposes a much faster transformation of the global energy system.   In the NPS, the average IEA crude oil price rises from just over $60 in 2009 to $113 per barrel in 2035, compared with $87 in the 450 Scenario or an increase to $140 if we continue with current policies. The 450 Scenario limits global warming gases in the atmosphere to a concentration of 450 parts per million C02 equivalent.  It envisages that there would be major changes in transport fuel.  By 2035 about 70% of global passenger car sales would be advanced vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars).  Not only would the proposals under the 450 scenario help to stabilize oil costs, but they would give a reasonable chance of meeting the overall goal of keeping the global temperature increase below 2°C.

The Outlook recommends that present Government subsidies for fossil fuels should be phased out.  These amounted to $312 billion in 2009.  However, government support for renewables can, in principle, be justified by the long-term economic, energy-security and environmental benefits they can bring.  The NPS projects that overall government support for renewables of $57billion in 2009 will rise to $205 billion in 2035. Gas, including unconventional sources, will have an increasing role.  The delays and uncertainties with the Copenhagen Accord have already increased the cost of keeping the global temperature increase below 2°C.  An extra $1 trillion investment will now be needed over the period 2010 and 2030, compared with the assessment in the previous year’s Outlook.

At the launch of the World Energy Outlook, Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency said “We need to use energy more efficiently and we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels by adopting technologies that have a much smaller carbon footprint”.  Mr Tanaka concluded that keeping the global temperature rise to a maximum of 2°C would require a phenomenal policy push by governments around the world. The technology exists today to enable such a change, but the required rate of technological transformation would be unprecedented.

What could fuel cells contribute?

Fuel cells are becoming more competitive and Government support, similar to that given to other energy saving and renewable technologies, would expedite their introduction and enable economies of scale to be achieved. The widespread use of fuel cells will make a major contribution to Government policies to ensure future energy security and cut global warming gases, as they have the following advantages: 

  • Electro-chemical energy conversion is quiet, with no emissions apart from water vapour
  • Modular construction.  Fuel cells can produce electricity on site thus minimising infrastructure costs and transmission losses
  • Highly reliable 24/7 operation
  • Cost competitive in volume production
  • Rapid deployment is possible
  • They will be powered by the low carbon fuels of the future
  • Hydrogen fuel cell systems act as load levellers for intermittent renewable energy on both a small and large scale
  • Up to 85% efficiency in CHP mode with natural gas, compared to 35% for the electricity grid
  • Exports to developing countries will enable them to utilize a variety of indigenous fuels
  • Fuel cells will be safer than nuclear power
  • High electricity to heat ratio is suitable for CHP units in future well insulated buildings
  • Successful urban vehicle demonstrations, with potential to compete with i.c. engine performance
  • Materials can be recycled.
  • Fuel cells generating energy on site will be less vulnerable to any future cybernet attacks.