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AFC Energy focused on slashing cost of hydrogen power

Work with partner De Nora has the potential to slash the cost of hydrogen power.
AFC aims to have 1GW of capacity installed by the end of 2020

Fuel cell specialist AFC Energy plc (LON:AFC) believes its work with partner De Nora has the potential to slash the cost of hydrogen power.

Key to this is the ability to increase the life of the electrodes within the fuel cells.

"The ability to deliver this extended operational lifetime in our electrodes is the critical factor in reducing the levelised cost of power. 

"This would be an incredible outcome not only for AFC Energy, but for the fuel cell industry and the wider hydrogen economy, and will put our technology on a comparable footing with other low carbon, baseload power generation technologies,” Adam Bond, chief executive, said last year.

AFC and De Nora, an Italian firm, have a way to go yet, but an update in January reported that a new electrode pairing had gone on test in December and was expected to exceed the predicted life of one year and might even run for two years.

Electrode upgrades

Work has also started on a further upgrade to the electrode anode and cathode pairings to enable them to run for four years.

Getting the electrodes to run for that length of time would bring the electricity costs down to below the target of US$0.10/ kWh - excluding the cost of hydrogen.

In its full-year results, Bond told investors that the fuel cell company had completed its three-year plan as promised.

“The funding put in place early in 2017 allowed us to enhance the 10kW fuel cell system design to support scaling-up of this modular design basis, complete technical milestones to deliver the longevity and reliability required for power plant application and develop the strategic partnerships to underpin the future commercial manufacturing and supply of fuel cells,” Bond said.

“With these targets met, AFC Energy is transitioning to commercial exploitation of the significant value in intellectual property that it has created; thereby becoming a key new entrant into the ever-growing clean energy revolution."

In terms of financial results, the company reported a £5.5mln loss for the year and it ended the period with £6.7mln of cash.

Commercial developments

AFC’s focus is the generation of power from waste hydrogen produced by the chemical industry.

EU-backed, the POWER-UP project is the world's largest operational alkaline fuel cell system at Air Products' industrial gas plant in Stade, Germany.

The first commercial sale of an alkaline fuel cell system (in 2017) was for PowerHouse Energy plc’s (LON:PHE) waste gasification system.

Heavyweight backing comes from Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich’s vehicle Ervington, which is the company's largest shareholder. 

First Australian contract

In July, the group landed its first commercial order from Australia for a hydrogen power unit using its fuel cells.

Southern Oil will install the unit, expected to be between 200kW and 400kW in capacity, at its advanced biomass facility at Gladstone.

Northern Oil, a subsidiary of Southern Oil, is building a large industrial scale pilot plant where surplus hydrogen generated from the system is to be made available for consumption within a fuel cell.

Hydrogen produced from the Gladstone refinery is expected to generate power at a lower cost than its existing grid tariff.

AFC will deliver the project in the first half of 2019.

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