Fuel cell firm Plug Power has entered into a definitive agreement to take full control of a joint venture to develop, manufacture and market fuel cells in Europe.
Plug Power bought the remaining 80% of joint venture HyPulsion from Axane, SA, a subsidiary of Air Liquide SA, for $11.47 million in common stock, subject to certain post-closing adjustments.
Plug Power and Air Liquide founded HyPulsion in 2012 to bring fuel cells for forklift trucks to the European market.
The transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions and is expected to close no later than August 2015.
New York’s fuel cell system manufacturer Plug Power has inked a supply order of 39 fuel cells to California-based fast-food distributor Golden State Foods.
The 39 GenDrive zero-emission fuel cells are aimed to power 39 material handling vehicles at the Golden State Foods’ new distribution centre in Chicago, US.
Germany’s Heliocentris Energy Solutions has a secured €1.5m ($1.9m) grant for the development of a new kind of hydrogen-based fuel cell emergency power supply that does not require highly elaborate hydrogen cylinder logistics.
Among other things, the non-refundable grant will be used for grid-connected mobile phone base stations to ensure full availability in the event of blackouts.
Power-plant developer FuelCell Energy has added Christopher Sotos, senior vice president of strategy, mergers and acquisitions at power distributor NRG Energy, to its board of directors.
At US-based NRG Energy, Sotos is responsible for the development, execution and implementation of the company's business strategy across all platforms, retail and wholesale business models as well as smaller venture capital investments and strategic relationships.
He has over two decades of experience in corporate financial management and business strategy.
"His power generation industry experience and expertise in business strategy and financial management make him a valuable addition to the FuelCell Energy Board and the Company it serves," said Chip Bottone, chief executive officer at FuelCell Energy.
"FuelCell Energy provides one of the few clean distributed energy baseload solutions for customers. I look forward to actively contributing to the growth of FuelCell Energy and providing insight into fuel cell applications in the power markets,” said Sotos.
In August this year, NRG Energy bought $35m of FuelCell Energy shares and extended a $40m loan in order to enable FuelCell to invest in project development, project finance and working capital support. NRG Energu now owns 6% of the outstanding common stock of the Connecticut-based company.
New York fuel cell developer WATT Fuel Cell (WATT) is to move its manufacturing operations to Mount Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania, US.
The maker of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) components acquired 39,000 sq. ft. space in April when it bought solid oxide fuel cell developer Pittsburgh Electric Engines. According to WATT, implementing the company’s manufacturing techniques with the Pittsburgh Electric Engines' technology could reduce manufacturing costs by as much as 75%.
The $2.3 million project is expected to add 33 jobs over the next three years.
WATT’s fuel cells operate on natural gas, diesel, propane and renewable fuels. They are designed to provide portable power and can be used as emergency backup power for municipalities, battery charging for recreational vehicles and offshore marine power, and remote sensor power.
WATT recently received a 20-month, $2.1m contract from the US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center to design and build a commercial-grade additive manufacturing line, an increase the production capacity for tubular cell components for SOFC systems.
“This U.S. Department of Defense program is a significant milestone for WATT and we are excited to see the last four years of advances in our technology come together in a system for the military market. We will be delivering a complete and operable alpha system,” said Paul DeWald, vice president of engineering at WATT.
General Electric (GE) is to set up a fuel cell pilot development and manufacturing plant in the state of New York, US.
The plant will be run by a new “in-house start-up” the company has created, consisting of a team of 17 engineers.
Head of the independent start-up is GE’s advanced technology leader at GE Global Research, Johanna Wellington. Her Global Research division team developed a technology that enables a fuel cell power generation with 65% efficiency and the ability to reach 95% when the system is configured to capture waste heat produced by the process.
The GE’s start-up will utilise this technology at the new plant. The basic configuration of the system can generate between 1 to 10MW of power, the company claimed.
"We have all of the speed, agility and focus of a small startup while leveraging the strength of a big company," said Wellington. The fuel cell development received financial background from GE’s ecomagination programme and can generate electricity at any location with a supply of natural gas, GE claimed.
"The cost challenges associated with the technology have stumped a lot of people for a long time," said Wellington. "But we made it work, and we made it work economically," she added.
New York-based fuel cell system manufacturer Plug Power and steelmaker Hyundai Hysco have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a fuel cell joint venture in Asia, the companies have announced.
The proposed five-year partnership would develop, manufacture and sell hydrogen fuel cells for applications in Asian markets. It would make use of Hysco’s R&D work on fuel cell systems and fuel cell stacks with an emphasis on low-cost stack plate technologies.
Details are to be finalized by the end of July 2014, the companies said, with the first products expected as early as next year.
According to financial analysts, Plug Power (with FuelCell Energy and Ballard Power) is one of a trio of US fuel cell companies attracting attention from investors, but the company will need to scale up production quickly and expand its reach into Asia and Europe in order to be profitable. Plug Power has called its global growth strategy “aggressive”.
"This highly anticipated joint venture with Hysco will enable Plug Power to broaden its reach into the Asian market, putting us well on our way toward global market expansion," said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. "The positive impact on our bottom line from fuel cell sales in the region in 2015 and beyond will play a significant role in our achievement of profitability."
Plug, which buys most of its stacks from Ballard Power, plans to begin its own manufacturing after its $4 million purchase of fuel cell systems maker ReliOn in early April.
UK-based fuel cell developer ACAL Energy is close to completing a £15m ($25m) funding round to commercialise its low-platinum fuel cell for automotive and stationary use.
When closed, the funding round will enable ACAL to bring the redox liquid-based catalyst system to production-level ready for licencing to automotive OEMs. ACAL has a number of OEMs interested in the product because of the lower costs and longer lifetime than competitors.
Brendan Bilton, ACAL’s chief commercial officer, said: “Automotive companies want fuel cells to cost $40kW but none of the normal fuel cells can achieve this. We could get to 20% lower than that.”
Major automotive companies that have announced fuel cell electric vehicle designs require a lifecycle of more than 5,000 hours with less than 10% degradation to match an ICE vehicle. The catalyst of ACAL’s fuel cell is based on polyoxometalates rather than platinum which allows it to run for 10,000 hours with no degradation. The platinum is the point of degradation in regular fuel cells so removing 80% of it makes ACAL's cells more durable.
Bilton said the technology will be licenced to OEMs who could potentially have them in cars four years after licencing: “Many companies are looking at having first generation fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2020. We are aiming for second generation,” he explained.
The fuel cells have the potential to be used as a source of power generation as well as for automotive use, which could turn a person’s car into their generator also. This idea is attracting interest in regions that suffer frequent power outages such as Japan.
The commercialisation funding round is being finalised to allow the licensing of the technology in the next two months.
Japanese authorities are looking to change the way the country uses energy by installing smart meters in every home and business by the early 2020s and 5.3m fuel cells installed in homes nationwide by 2030.