Ceres Announces Field Trial Plans and Further Progress Towards Commercialisation of Residential Fuel Cell Product

26 Jul 2012

Ceres Power

Ceres Power has announced further progress towards commercialisation of its solid oxide fuel cell micro-CHP product for residential heat and power. It remains on track for both its planned 2014 field trial and its 2016 product launch target.


Key Highlights

New agreement for UK and Netherlands consumer field trials:

  • British Gas and Itho-Daalderop to purchase 174 micro-CHP units
  • €2.4 million funding via the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme - final approval shortly to be granted

Significant improvements in degradation rates now achieved at micro-CHP product level:

  • On-track to deliver the required commercial product performance requirements
  • Planned technology developments set to deliver further improvements

 Flagship UK and Benelux commercial product launch programme remains on track to deliver the mass volume low cost micro-CHP for 2H 2016.

Independent review by Booz & Company and AEA Technology confirms low-cost capability of the Ceres micro-CHP product design.

Independent review of Ceres core fuel cell technology by a globally recognised SOFC expert commissioned.

Successful implementation of planned cost reduction programme delivering annualised savings of at least £3m.

£10.2m in net cash at 30th June 2012.


New Agreement to Sell CHP Units for Large Scale Consumer Trials

Under a new agreement, Ceres’ partners British Gas and Itho-Daalderop are to purchase 174 micro-CHP units for sale, installation and trialling in UK and Dutch homes from 2014. This will be the first time the units are available to the public and select customers will have the opportunity to purchase a Ceres micro-CHP unit with a full service and maintenance package provided by British Gas in the UK and by Itho-Daalderop in the Netherlands.

Both British Gas and Itho-Daalderop will be launching their marketing campaigns to customers in their respective markets in due course.

Feedback from these trials will be used by Ceres to refine the product and validate performance and operability prior to mass volume launch in 2016. The trials will be part of the new Ene-Field project, a large-scale demonstration of various fuel cell micro-CHP products across Europe.


Significant Improvements Achieved in Durability

Ceres can now confirm operation of a micro-CHP product on natural gas with degradation rates approaching those achieved at cell stack level (1% per 1000 hours).

In addition, the Company has developed a strengthened cell anode and is continuing to make improvements in stack resistance, thermal management and fuel and water control; these are likely to result in further improvements in degradation rates at the micro-CHP product level. Ceres is confident that the micro-CHP product has the potential to meet the overall commercial performance requirements supporting mass market deployment from 2016.


Commercial Product Launch Programme Remains on Track for Second Half of 2016

Ceres’ unique metal-supported fuel cell technology, operating under 600°C, enables the use of low-cost materials such as stainless steel in the manufacture of the fuel cell stack and the balance of plant components in the micro-CHP product. The company believes that the low cost of the Ceres technology platform represents a distinctive commercial advantage, and the delivery of a cost leadership technology will be the prime differentiator that will underpin mass volume consumer uptake.


UK Feed-in Tariff for micro-CHP Products

Ceres’ product will qualify for the newly-increased micro-CHP feed-in tariff in the UK. For a typical U.K. home with a Ceres micro-CHP unit, it is predicted that the annual FIT will go up from £350 to £436, on top of the predicted annual energy cost savings of £286.


Restructuring, Cost Reduction and Financial Position

On 30th March 2012 Ceres Power announced a cost reduction and restructuring programme. The Company can now confirm that the targeted annualised savings of at least £3m on the current cost base have been achieved. This has come principally through reducing headcount. We are currently working with our supply chain partners to leverage their capability to deliver low cost, reliable components and sub-systems to de-risk the programme and minimise the costs to launch the CHP product. The Company is in positive discussions with a number of key strategic partners in Europe, Asia and North America about commercialising the Company’s core technology platform and financing the micro-CHP programme.

The Company can confirm that, based on unaudited figures, it has achieved its targeted cash figure of £10.2 million in net cash at 30th June 2012.

A full commercial and technology update will be presented in September. This will also include an independent detailed assessment of Ceres core technology by an acknowledged international expert in SOFC and related technologies, which the Company anticipates will confirm Ceres low cost SOFC technology meets the performance and durability requirements of residential micro-CHP and have the potential for cost leadership, therefore underpinning the Company’s strategy of global mass market deployment.


See the full press release from Ceres Power here.

Source: Ceres Power

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