Achieved connection UK: FUEL CELL POWER No. 21 Summer 2005 :: Future Energies :: The future of energy
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Fuel cells UK: FUEL CELL POWER No. 21 Summer 2005
Posted by on 2005-07-12 13:46:06
contributed by gfoat

John Thwaites, Acting Premier of Victoria and Minister for the Environment launched Australia’s first fuel cell generator from Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. This heralds a new energy appliance for world markets which are being stimulated by the Kyoto Protocol, rising electricity prices and fuel volatility.


Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd’s (CFCL) first fuel cell powered micro-CHP (combined heat and power generator) was officially launched in June by the Hon John Thwaites, MP, Deputy Premier of Victoria and Minister for Environment.

Fuel cells offer a new and clean energy solution to nuclear and carbon-based, less efficient systems - for everything from transport, to electricity for homes and offices, to power for laptops and mobile phones. CFCL is competing on the world stage in the largest energy sector, the stationary energy market, and have installed their fuel cell in a residential micro-CHP (small combined heat and power generator) unit. This prototype unit launched by the Minister is going for field trials with Powerco in New Zealand later this month. This heralds a new energy appliance for Australia as well as the international markets where the Kyoto Protocol, the need to reduce CO2 emissions, electricity prices and fuel volatility are significant drivers for such systems.

CFCL’s solid oxide fuel cell technology comes in the form of 150 watt sub-stacks, which are the building blocks that can be assembled into a range of commercial configurations up to 2 kW. Multiple stacks can be manifolded together to cater for larger capacity requirements.

A significant feature of CFCL’s fuel cell design is the capacity for the basic component, the ceramic plate, to be mass produced thereby reducing costs of production.

CFCL has around 100 staff, including a cohesive team of engineers and scientists, in solid oxide fuel cell research, development and production. Combined with advanced fabrication and extensive testing facilities, CFCL has world leading resources and capabilities for the development of fuel cell energy solutions.

Micro CHP markets

CFCL’s combined heat and power demonstration unit is smaller than a wardrobe and is designed to provide continuously 1 kW of electricity and 1 kW of heat for hot water.

CFCL has opened an office in the UK, where in April this year the Government announced a cut of VAT from 17.5% to 5% specifically for micro-CHP systems. This follows both regulations and financial incentives in Germany and elsewhere on the continent. Sales of conventional engine micro-CHP in Europe up to 2004 were around 25,000 units and sales are estimated to grow at around 25% per annum.

Independent UK based advisers, EA Technologies, informed energy utilities in 2003 that the micro-CHP market in Europe will grow to a similar order of magnitude as the nuclear generating capacity, and that all the centralised power stations in the UK could be closed down if every home in the UK installed a 2.5kW micro-CHP.


Fuel Cell Power took part in the Clean Energy Technology & Investment Show at the London Business Design Centre during May. The contribution of energy efficiency measures and the role of solar, wind and wave power in reducing global warming gases were considered. It was estimated that if half the homes in the UK were powered by combined heat and power units (CHP) the electricity produced could displace that produced by our ageing nuclear industry. Substantial progress with hydrogen and fuel cell systems was reported.

Greg Archer of the Government’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership said that there could be profound changes in the climate at lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought. It may not be enough to restrict C02 emissions in the atmosphere to 550 parts per million (ppm), but 400 ppm could be the safe limit and we are already at 380 ppm. The probability of events such as the European heat wave, which caused nearly 24,000 deaths, has doubled as a result of changes in the atmosphere. In the US some power companies are already being sued by individual states for damage caused by global warming.

We must apply new technologies now and remove the non-technical barriers. We need to inform public opinion about energy efficiency in the home and discourage the inappropriate use of cars. One of the problems is that fuel costs are not a significant part of private or business expenditure as the costs of fossil fuels are not internalised. This summer the Government is preparing a climate change programme for more energy efficient buildings and green technology. The public procurement sector should also be involved.


Ray Noble of BP Solar illustrated a variety of applications for solar panels, which could meet all the world’s electricity demands if they were installed in desert areas totalling only 200 square miles! They could contribute to the transport needs of developing countries if they were fitted to the roofs of small vehicles. In the UK Sainsburys is using solar panels to provide electricity for chillers. Solar tiles could be fitted to 150,000 new houses per annum, which would be particularly beneficial as emissions from buildings are twice those from transport and investment in buildings is calculated over 50 years, while transport investment is calculated over only 10 years.

In recent years the UK has not had to make substantial investment in new energy infrastructure because of the run down of heavy industries but solar power could contribute to new efficient distributed electricity generation. One such application could be for transport interchange buildings incorporating solar panels to provide power for vehicles. There is also potential for other renewable energy sources such as wind. Micro wind turbines can be used on site, but care should be taken not to install large wind turbines in beautiful places, but they should rather be installed in industrial areas or at a distance from the public, connected through the grid. BP is committed to meeting Government regulations and to matching the developments of motor manufacturers. They have already established hydrogen filling stations and believe that the future is with hydrogen, whether it is transported in pipelines or in tankers like oil, but we must act very soon and we need the Government to drive it forward.

Hydrogen vehicles

The need for action was reiterated by John Hollis who underlined BMW’s commitment to sustainable mobility. BMW believed that the solution to C02 induced Greenhouse Gas global warming is to use hydrogen as a fuel in internal combustion engines (i.c.e.). Made from renewable energy, the hydrogen would reduce transport’s contribution to C02 by 70% to 80%. Although there is already a voluntary agreement at European level for car manufacturers to reduce their new vehicle’s fuel consumption by 25% from 1996 to 2008, this is offset by similar increases in fuel use due to the growing volume of traffic. The size of the hydrogen storage tank required is the biggest problem for cars. BMW believes that liquid hydrogen has advantages over compressed storage in this respect. It is not a safety issue to use hydrogen in cars, in many ways it is safer than petrol. The refuelling station at Munich Airport has been operating for six years and in May 2000, BMW launched a fleet of 15 hydrogen powered i.c.e. cars that have covered 150,000 kms with no technical issues. These were dual-fuel cars with a range of 300 kms on hydrogen and 650 kms on petrol.

BMW is attracted by solar power as the way to harness the large quantity of energy reaching the earth from the sun. More energy is needed to liquefy hydrogen than for compression, but if in future we are using limitless supplies of solar power, efficiency is not such a problem as it is with irreplaceable fossil fuels. Also, when there is sufficient infrastructure to be able to run vehicles just on hydrogen, there are significant efficiency improvements available for internal combustion engines to bring their efficiency closer to that of fuel cells. The UK already has zero tax on hydrogen powered passenger vehicles, but there is a need for long term partnerships to work together to implement fuel taxation measures and to continue research and the implementation of standards.

Wider applications for fuel cells

Kerry-Ann Adamson of Fuel Cell Today envisages widespread use of fuel cells for distributed generation, particularly in rural locations and in poorer countries. For this type of application they are considering the 1 to 2 kW solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). UK Government backing is fragmented compared with the Japanese programme and there is a need for more projects including renewable generation. In the UK small portable fuel cells can now be obtained from Voller Energy. The American Embassy in London is installing a fuel cell system this year and the UK fuel cell road map is due out later this year.

CHP for cost effective carbon mitigation

According to Jeremy Harrison of E.ON UK plc, micro combined heat and power (CHP) is one of the most effective carbon mitigation technologies. Their Stirling engine CHP could enable fuel cost savings in about half the homes in the UK, because the same quantity of gas as is used in a conventional central heating boiler provides electricity as well as heat.

There are many benefits from using micro CHP, which will increase security of supply and reduce the need for renewable energy. It would be sufficient to provide back-up for wind generated electricity as all the units could be automatically switched on to meet the Grid demand when the wind was not blowing. The electricity produced would be equivalent to our present ageing nuclear capacity and would have a higher value because it could be generated when required at peak times.

At this stage no changes would be needed to the electricity distribution network but future high level penetration would not be difficult or expensive. Savings of £1.2 bn could be made by 2020 in efficiency gains and deferred network upgrades. Although micro CHP will make substantial reductions to carbon dioxide emissions, it does not gain from the European Emissions Trading Scheme.

Marine renewables

Michael Hay of the British Wind Energy Association reported substantial progress with marine energy and looked forward to the next stage with marine farms, which could provide up to 1 gigawatt (1 gigawatt (GW) = 1 million kW) of UK electricity by 2015 and 5 GW by 2025 The UK is in the forefront of marine renewables technology and the Renewable Obligation, which is in place until 2027, will help the long term implementation of this technology.

Financial perspectives

Jonathan Jones of Ernst Young chaired the session. Jim Barry of the Bank of Scotland said that the Renewables Obligation is creating a major industry and they are interested in lending capital for up to 25 years for wind power installations. The installed wind capacity in the EU is now 34 gigawatts (GW), of which 1 GW is in the UK, and EU investment is continuing at €12 bn/year. The next technologies are offshore wind and energy from waste and biomass, but they need to be large projects or bundled together to cover the due diligence costs.

Richard Tarboton of the Energy Savings Trust (EST) said that in the UK C02 from cars increased last year even though 42% of people are concerned about the impact of global warming gases. EST is supporting several hybrid bus projects and has contributed £600,000 to the three hydrogen fuel cell buses in London. They are also financing the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership. John Butt of Conduit Ventures is backing six hydrogen and fuel cell developments, including one in the UK, the micro fuel cell developed by CMR Fuel Cells Ltd at Cambridge. Their interests are two and four wheel vehicles, stationary and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and portable applications.

David Deacon of Azure Dynamics said that they are carrying out an awareness campaign in the USA which is now starting up in the UK. They are aiming towards the electrification of transport, with hybrid electrics as the bridge. The target is for 10,000 vehicles supplied under a ‘Green Lease’ and they are looking for companies wanting to change to clean transport, which would be of interest to many of their customers.

Largescale international deployment

Vasso Tsatsami of the Clean Energy Partnership in Berlin outlined the five year European programme from 2002 to 2007 involving Vattenfall Hydro, General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and BMW. They run a public filling station for a fleet of sixteen liquid and gaseous hydrogen cars and are planning step by step evolution towards getting hydrogen cars in towns at acceptable prices.

Toddington Harper of Fuel Cell Markets Ltd said that their aim is to bring technologies to market. Fuel cells are a component of a new energy system, in which electrochemical conversion will be a more efficient and cleaner method than burning fuels. The first markets are likely to be stationary applications for distributed generation in which electricity is produced locally and connected to the grid or for private wire networks and micro CHP for domestic use. There are also opportunities for larger scale CHP, tri-generation (electricity, heating and cooling) as well as portable applications, including uninterrupted power supplies (UPS). The automotive market is the hardest to enter. The benefits of fuel cells are high energy efficiency, less and potentially zero harmful emissions, they are quiet and discreet, they have few moving parts, and can be scaled up or down. They can be powered from many sources of energy, including locally produced renewables.

The Japanese Government has a target by 2010 for 1.3 million residential fuel cell systems and 50,000 fuel cell powered vehicles. By 2006 they plan mass manufacture of portable fuel cells, followed by stationary fuel cells from 2007 and fuel cells for transport from 2010. Along with Korea, they have the most advanced micro fuel cells. The pre-commercial industry is now establishing who will be the world leaders in the markets for applications and products incorporating fuel cells.

Rapid regional advances

Dermot Roddy of OneNorthEast said that they produce 75,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year which could provide fuel for transport in the Tees Valley. Green hydrogen could be obtained from surplus wind energy or from gasified coal with the C02 captured and pumped out to sea. Unlike the buses in the EU sponsored fuel cell programme, hydrogen powered internal combustion engine vehicles are affordable.

Gareth Ellis of the National Energy Foundation said that it is an independent non-Governmental organization. The Foundation works with trades involved with energy technologies for use in buildings, as well as renewable energies, including solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, biomass, waste and small-scale wind energy collectors. A new technology in the UK is ground source heat pumps which upgrade ambient heat. The ground in effect stores summer solar energy for the winter. However, there is little incentive to employ these technologies, as the UK Government has no target for introducing renewable sources of heat.

Maff Smith of the Scottish Renewables Forum said they are aiming to use hydrogen vehicles although they are not yet economic. Their goal is to have 25% electricity produced from hydro and 50% from wind. Scotland has tremendous resources and could provide 75% of the UK’s electricity. A question was asked about the inter-connection between the Scottish and English grids and it was suggested that hydrogen could be better used for Scottish transport. It was also suggested that solar energy in a Portuguese desert could be exported to the UK but Gareth Ellis replied that it would be more economic to use solar energy here in the UK. We have enough roof space to provide more than enough electricity to meet all the UK’s demands. Todd Harper of Fuel Cell Markets added that each country has some energy resource and the more they exploit this in their own country the less money they will have to pay for imports.

Make it happen

Several speakers suggested ways forward for clean energy technologies. Although the costs of renewables may be higher than for fossil fuels, we know what they are and they will not be affected by global shocks. Carbon trading offers new opportunities. The UK’s oil refining infrastructure could be used for hydrogen and there is also great potential for energy from biomass which can be grown in most countries. We need to develop hydrogen from different sources and drive down costs as technologies will be more competitive when they are produced in larger volumes.


During April Gordon Brown visited Intelligent Energy's Loughborough facility where he saw the full range of Intelligent Energy's fuel cell technology. Dr Harry Bradbury (left) introduced Gordon Brown and Andy Reed, MP for Loughborough (right) to the env Motorbike. "Another great British invention" commented the Chancellor as he saw a demonstration of the bike's near silent operation.


Under the auspices of the Prince of Wales Business and Environment Programme, thirteen leading British industrialists have written to the Prime Minister fully supporting the Government’s target of 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Urgent action must be taken now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, but we are in a “Catch 22” situation in which governments feel limited in their ability to introduce new climate change policy for fear of business resistance, while companies are unable to scale up investment in low carbon solutions because of the absence of long-term policies.

The Government must establish a long-term value for carbon emissions reduction and consistently support and provide incentives for the development of new technologies.
While it is clear that tackling climate change will impose some upfront costs on businesses, governments and the public, these can be minimized with the right policy framework and the UK’s overall competitiveness need not be adversely affected.

The estimated global impacts on GDP of pathways that ultimately stabilize C02 emissions range between 0.2% and 2% and are likely to be substantially less than the economic costs of adapting to unconstrained climate change. The International Energy Agency calculates that $16 trillion dollars of energy infrastructure investment will be needed worldwide over the next 25 years and this could set the stage for enormous commercial opportunities for the UK if it is coupled with a shift to a low carbon economy.


James Skinner, Chairman of Bristol Electric Railbus Ltd, believes that Government policies are holding back innovative engineering companies.
The Government is coming under increasing pressure from industry to take action to reduce carbon emissions, but little attention is being given to the urgent need to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from which historically so much innovation has come in the past. SMEs lack the wealth and muscle of the big companies and so tend to be ignored when it comes to doling out grant money for innovation. The bulk of the last R&D hand-out from the DTI Technology Strategy Programme went to British Aerospace and Rolls Royce.

The DTI sent a Delegation to Japan last year to investigate the reasons why fuel cells are so much more advanced there than in the UK. They noted that in Japan the government gives 100% grants for projects demonstrating new technology, even though the companies concerned are mainly very large and well able to afford to finance the demonstrations themselves. This was one of the main reasons for the rapid advance of fuel cell technology towards commercialisation. Here, unlike in Japan, the innovation comes mainly from SMEs, who really need support for demonstrations.

In the UK grant money for demonstrating new technology is hard to come by. Public transport provides an example of how powerful vested interests and official conservatism can block innovation from reaching the market. Government and private investment is focused on diesel buses, which are cheap but dirty, or on Conventional Light Rail (CLR), which is clean but prohibitively expensive. Both have large industries backing them and neither is much interested in innovation.

Ultra Light Rail (ULR) has been developed to provide trams at a similar cost to buses. It provides a new category of public transport that is both cheap and clean, as well as being popular with the public. After ULR was successfully demonstrated in service in Bristol for 2½ years the Council included a ULR project in their Local Transport Plan. It has remained there, as a plan, blocked by lack of official funding, for five years.

The high level of energy efficiency of Ultra Light Rail makes it the most economical method of introducing fuel cells into the commercial transport market, but, as Government does not classify trams as road transport, they are not eligible for any of the numerous grant funding schemes available to buses. The bus industry makes sure it stays that way.

The EU sponsored fuel cell buses in London are powered by two 125 kilowatt fuel cells. A similar capacity ULR tram would require only a single 25 kilowatt fuel cell in a hybrid system using on-board energy storage and regenerative braking. The CLR industry relies on a few huge multinationals (Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom) to provide their large, expensive trams and do not welcome competition from innovative low-cost systems. Few transport consultants are much interested in seeing the cost of light rail systems reduced by an order of magnitude, as can be done with ULR.

Despite the National Audit Office’s recommendations last year that DfT and DTI should set up a fund for making grants to innovative light rail, nothing has been done. The discrimination in favour of buses is further enhanced by the Bus Service Operators Grant (formerly known as the Fuel Duty Rebate), which pays out a subsidy of £1 million per day (£365 million per annum) to make diesel fuel cheaper for buses. The rising price of oil and the Government’s rhetoric on climate change make this subsidy ever more embarrassing, but nothing is done to switch any of that money into supporting alternative new clean technologies that are being developed by SMEs, which lack the resources to bring them to market. Using currently available fuel cell technology a low-cost hydrogen tram could be brought to the market within a year. The technology exists; the technical team is ready; the end-users are ready and waiting; all that is lacking is the money to make it happen.


Sulzer Ltd launched its new fuel cell combined heat and power generator called ‘Galileo’ at the Hanover Fair. So far a hundred of Sulzer’s solid oxide fuel cell CHP units have operated successfully for a total of over a million hours in family homes.

Unprecedented statement by Science Academies

The scientific evidence on climate change is now clear enough for the leaders of the G8 to take prompt action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, according to a statement published by the UK Royal Society and the other G8 science academies of France, Russia, Germany, US, Japan, Italy and Canada, along with those of Brazil, China and India. The G8 summit is an unprecedented moment in human history. Our leaders face a stark choice, act now to tackle climate change or let future generations face the price of their inaction. Never before have we faced such a global threat and if we do not begin effective action now it will be much harder to stop the runaway train as it continues to gather momentum.

UK Greenhouse gas emissions

The latest Government statistics show that the 8% fall in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2003 was mainly due to reductions of 51 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent from manufacturing industry’s 1990 total of 180 million tonnes and 26 million tonnes reduction from the energy and water sectors 1990 total of 218 million tonnes.

There were increases of 31 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in the transport sector’s 1990 emissions of 64 million tonnes, including international aviation and shipping but not private cars, and 18 million tonnes in the domestic sector’s 1990 total of 139 million tonnes.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.

Views sought on micro-generation

Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, announced a consultation on micro-generation for homes, businesses and public buildings at the annual conference of the Renewable Power Association (RPA) in London. The DTI is developing a cross-Government strategy for the development of micro-generation, including micro-hydro, micro-wind, solar power, fuel cells, micro-combined heat and power and ground and air source heat pumps. This consultation will give everyone the chance to share their views on how we can best promote the development and uptake of micro-generation and make it easier for people to adopt these technologies in their own neighbourhood. Philip Wolfe, RPA Chief Executive, said that the gap between the Government’s intention to develop our renewable energy sources and the policy measures that are needed is still too big. Your opinion is invited by 23rd September.

American Mayors back Kyoto

The Mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, has led a group of ten mayors, representing more than three million Americans, in an invitation to 400 of their counterparts across America to sign the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which aims to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets. By mid-June 162 cities had signed the Agreement and it has been accepted unanimously by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.


Representatives from UK central and local government, global companies and local industry, financiers and insurers contributed to a conference in Birmingham during May to find effective solutions to climate change.
Patrick Trezona, Secretary General of Fuel Cell Europe, said that hydrogen and fuel cells are closer than people think, but they are disruptive technologies. Moving to electro-chemicals will bring high risk and will require considerable investment but will help to solve problems of global warming, air pollution and energy security.
Industry will not invest until there is a framework in place, a concrete plan for Europe

Fuel Cells combat climate change

Jeremy Leitman, Chairman and CEO of FuelCell Energy, gave a whirlwind tour of the fuel cell installations which his company has established around the world in different applications. Based on carbonate fuel cell technology, the Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) ranges from 250kW up to 2 MW and is proving its reliability and efficiency. During the past few years, FuelCell Energy has seeded the market with 250 kW units and, as the operators are satisfied with the technology, they are going on to 1 to 2 MW systems.

Edison’s original proposal was that electricity generators would avoid transmission and distribution losses and would be more reliable if they were close to the user.
Compared with the 33% efficiency of US fossil fuel plant, DFC has over 50% electrical efficiency, or higher if the heat is utilised in a steam turbine.

A DFC provides electricity and heat in the Sheraton Hotel (right), as well as in wastewater treatment centres, hospitals and universities. They generate additional electricity which supports the grid without the need for additional infrastructure. They can be powered by a variety of fuels including diesel, propane or digester gas.

Landfill gas which has traces of heavy metals is usually burnt and released to the atmosphere, but it is possible, though expensive, to clean it up and use it to power a fuel cell. FuelCell Energy is on course to meet its three year target to reduce costs by 20% to 25% per year. The Government’s incentive programme helps and customers are able to avoid grid constraints and disconnections.

Fuel cells in developing countries

Brendan Bilton of Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd outlined the potential for their solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) to produce energy in poorer countries and at the same time reduce global warming gases. SOFC are best suited to stationary applications at constant power output. Any form of hydrocarbon gas can be used and if they use methane from waste they can reduce the impact of emissions because methane is a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide. The technology is applicable to developing economies where it will obviate massive infrastructure costs.
1 – 5 kW micro networks with sewage plants could be used in small rural communities. One farmer worked out that the biogas obtained from a herd of 100 cows could provide the 15 kW electricity he uses each day. In an area with 20 million cattle, 3 GW of electricity could be produced using solid oxide fuel cells. Only the carbon and hydrogen are used to produce energy and the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are left for use as fertilisers.

New approach to fuel cell design

Michael Priestnall of Cambridge based CMR Fuel Cells Ltd said that in conventional fuel cells the fuel and air are separated but they mix the fuel and air and use a porous electrolyte. The technology is suitable for all types of fuel cells and this configuration enables them to make the cells and stacks 10 times smaller and also cheaper. No seals are needed, they have ultra thin electrolyte and can use a cheap alternative to platinum. They can achieve greater efficiency and power density at 80% lower cost than for conventional fuel cells. Compared with the most advanced lithium batteries there is a four to five fold increase in energy density. Manufacture is scheduled to start in 2 to 3 years time. There were questions about the safety of mixing fuels with air and it was explained that water mixed with the air and methanol stops heat combustion. In the case of the hydrogen and oxygen mix, they ensure that the dimensions of the pores are smaller than the ignition distance for hydrogen.

Speeding commercialisation

Bruce Girvan of Ceres Power Ltd outlined progress with their compact 2.5 kW solid oxide fuel cell, which achieves 80% electrical and thermal efficiency. They use low cost steel which improves manufacturability and the SOFC benefits from fuel flexibility. They had received good support from private and Government sources and that morning the price of a tonne of carbon dioxide had more than doubled to €19 which would help to commercialise efficient energy technologies!

Nicholas Pocard of IdaTec LLC, said that Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells (PEM) are suitable for portable power units up to 500W and for back up power systems from 1 – 10 kW. For remote applications fuel cell battery hybrids are available. A micro CHP system is being developed in Germany which will provide 4.6 kWe (electricity) and 7kWth (heat) and have 5,000 hours lifetime. In France a 3 kWe solar hybrid is planned.


A 35 km hydrogen pipeline is operational in Teeside and a fuel cell is being used to power a road sign. Fuel cells for a lighthouse and for lighting a visitor centre have also been commissioned. The Hydrogen Association has set up its UK base in Teeside in order to promote UK hydrogen interests and provide a collective voice to Government and the media. In a European funded programme in Wales they want to move towards renewables, hydrogen and fuel cells. They are producing hydrogen from wheat starch, sewage sludge and biomass feedstocks. A hydrogen energy farm project is planned and a hydrogen powered boat will be utilised in Cardiff Bay where the new Welsh Assembly building is being erected. Public acceptance is important but it is difficult to obtain the funding for essential demonstrations. They want to co-ordinate activities with other centres in the UK.

Scottish based siGEN said that on the Island of Unst two 15 kW turbines are generating electricity with hydrogen produced by an Accagen electrolyser. They are proposing local community owned wind systems which could deploy technologies from anywhere in the world. A stand alone hydrogen system incorporating a hybrid battery / electrolyser hydrogen storage unit is being developed by the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University. BOC is using the existing industrial infrastructure for hydrogen production as this gives flexible fuelling for the first demonstrators, but they want hydrogen from sustainable sources in the future.

The International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (UNIDO-ICHET) is based in Turkey, which is moving towards the use of indigenous renewable energy. The burden of air pollution is worst in developing countries and UNIDO is acting as a bridge between R & D and practical applications.

Government support essential

Large industries are planning to add fuel cells to their products. Ian Stares said that the Baxi Group expects to be selling fuel cell units by 2012 -2013 and maybe sooner, but there is a high market entry cost. Government support is essential, but it will enable job creation in the UK. This was backed by Jonathan Lewis of Rolls Royce who said that a proper framework is essential and Europe must invest not only in R&D but in the commercialization of new technology. The fuel cell will be fundamental to the way we live in the future but there is a long way to go.

London wants 100% renewables

Allan Jones MBE of the London Climate Change Agency said that they are planning to use combined heat and power units incorporating tri-generation for heating, cooling and electricity. They would like to be able to buy British products but they are also interested in the Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC). UK programmes only encourage the use of renewables for electricity generation, but 70% of the UK’s non-transport energy needs are thermal. They are planning island generation sites in London, which will be independent from the grid, and will obviate the need for large centralized power stations. Fuel cells will be mixed in with wind and solar power and there will be no need for fossil fuels or nuclear energy. They are planning to introduce large numbers of hydrogen powered vehicles in London. Transport for London operates 8,000 buses and there are 20,000 taxis. If you ask for a quote for a few vehicles or you ask for thousands you get totally different answers.


Nanotechnology: small science, big deal

The Tandem CellTM developed by Hydrogen Solar Ltd can be seen this summer until the end of August at the Science Museum’s free Nanotechnology Exhibition. Afterwards the exhibition will tour four UK venues.

The Tandem Cell converts light and water directly into hydrogen. Generating hydrogen at point of use maximizes the efficiency of the energy system. Hydrogen can be used in a fuel cell or conventional boiler to produce both electricity and heat with no resulting release of carbon by-products. Studies show that a 7 metre square array of Tandem Cells on a standard southern Californian double garage roof will fuel a production hydrogen vehicle for 11,000 miles of driving per year without visiting a filling station.

Fuel Cells For A Sustainable World & 3rd European Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Forum

4th – 8th July. The conferences organized by the European Fuel Cell Forum will take place at the Kultur-und Kongresszentrum Luzern, Switzerland.
European Fuel Cell Forum, P.O. Box 99, CH-5452, Oberrohrdorf, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 56 496 7292 Fax: +41 56 496 4412

Ninth Grove Fuel Cell Symposium and Exhibition

4th – 6th October at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London.
With over 500 delegates at the last event, the Grove Symposium has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive fuel cell event in Europe. The Ninth Grove Fuel Cell Symposium will cover the real and rapid progress made in the development of fuel cell industries and the infrastructure to support them, resulting in viable fuel cell power generation for both mobile and stationary applications across a wide range of sectors. The deadline for submitting papers has passed but for posters it is 30th June.
The event is organized by Elsevier and will cover :

  • Commercial and industrial applications for stationary fuel cells
    Enabling commercialisation:
  • Fuels:
  • Portable applications
  • Power for consumer electronics
  • Residential combined heat and power
  • Transport: road vehicles
  • Propulsion and auxiliary power units

    Gill Heaton, Grove Fuel Cell Conference Secretariat, Hillside Cottages, Wheatley Road, Islip, Oxford, OX5 2TF. Pam Chattin, Grove Exhibition Organiser +44 (0) 1322 663006


    Information can be obtained from: Fuel Cell Power, Lyndhurst, The Street, Woolpit, Suffolk, IP30 9QG.

    Tel. & Fax 01359 245073



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