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UK fuel cell industry seeks government support for fuel cells

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

A campaign has been launched to obtain more support for British-made hydrogen fuel cells under a national renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme.

According to Energy and Environmental Management, the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (UKHFCA) said British and European companies are lagging behind those in the US and Korea in terms of government support for baseload power from fuel cell technology.  The US Department of Energy recently announced $150m tax credits for clean energy manufacturers, including manufacturers of fuel cells, in addition to a previously announced programme of $2.3bn of tax credits.

Currently, some CHP (combined heat and power) installations are eligible for support under the Renewable Obligation scheme, but there is no support for low carbon hydrogen fuel cells across the power, transport and heat sectors. The trade association believes that small scale low carbon electricity from fuel cells should be rewarded with a £0.17/kWh ($0.26) generation tariff, up to the 5 MW installation limit set by the support scheme.

Ian Williamson, chief executive of AFC Energy and director of the UKHFCA, said: "The UK is a leader in fuel cell technology and AFC Energy wants it to remain that way," he said. "This is about both energy efficiency and UK jobs. That is why we have urged the government to extend the feed-in-tariff scheme to cover fuel cells."

UTC Power sells fuel cell unit to ClearEdge Power

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

US conglomerate United Technologies Corporation (UTC) has sold its stationary fuel cell division to Oregon-based ClearEdge Power.

UTC Power has installed over 300 of its PureCell stationary fuel cells systems in 19 countries and on six continents for large industrial clients and power grids. ClearEdge's products are focused more on the homeowner and small businesses.

The financial terms of UTC Power's sale were not disclosed.  Industry analysts have speculated UTC sold the fuel cell subsidiary for a deep discount just to unload the venture, as the unit had never turned a profit.

Gas genset installation capacity to reach 60 GW in 2018 – report

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Global installations of gas gensets from 2013 to 2018 will total 60 GW of capacity, according to a new report from Pike Research.

The installation of 60 GW capacity worldwide will generate almost $10bn in annual revenue, said the report.

“Until recently, the natural gas genset market has experienced steady growth, but a boom in unconventional gas resources and tightening regulations limiting stationary generator emissions point to accelerating growth over the next decade,” says Pike Research senior research analyst Mackinnon Lawrence.

“The number of specialised segments within the genset market – spanning power classes, applications, and end-use customers – offers a rich ecosystem of opportunities for market participants,” he added.

Award for Accutronics and Aston University

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Battery manufacturers Accutronics, based in Birmingham UK, have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership award for a joint project with Birmingham’s Aston University Business School.

Accutronics, who design, develop and manufacturer nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries, joined with Aston for the two-year project to demonstrate how academic advancements could be used as a practical business tool.

Prabhjit Singh Chugh of Aston University spent time at Accutronics on the team where he was able to develop a new approach to managing operational improvements in a very customer driven way.  Martin May of Aston University described Prabhjit’s role as to “present a project in partnership with the host business to attract government funding.  The university provides some supervision and mentorship, as, of course, does Accutronics.”

The KTP project aims to build and strengthen relationships between academic establishments, businesses and the community.

Gareth Hancox, KTP project supervisor said: “This project was aimed at developing and implementing an operational strategy, which, together with all necessary processes and facilities would assist to support and grow the increasingly complex product range within Accutronics.”  He hopes it will continue to improve Accutronics reputation and enable the company to meet the challenges of performance requirements.

Key achievements in the first year of the project have included the definition of operations performance targets for existing and new markets and the identification of over one hundred improvement actions in the business process.

H-Train of tomorrow, today

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A hydrogen-powered hybrid train has been designed and built by students at the University of Birmingham, UK.  The prototype narrow gauge locomotive, running on a 5 000-litre hydrogen fuel cell combined with lead-acid batteries, is the first of its kind operating in the UK.

Dr Stuart Hillmansen, from the University of Birmingham's School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: "Our hydrogen-powered locomotive is a clean and efficient example of how hydrogen power could work for future trains on non-electrified routes.  We hope that our efforts will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology."

The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, helping to meet the peak power demands during acceleration.

The advanced cell, which has already been successfully deployed by the university on a canal barge, exceeded expectations when the locomotive was tested on Leicestershire's Stapleford Miniature Railway.

Hydrogen transport also hit the headlines recently during the London 2012 Olympics.  A fleet of five black cabs, powered by hydrogen, shuttled people around the city demonstrating the potential of H-cells as an alternative fuel source.

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