Ceres Power will use the new site to mass-produce fuel cells and for the volume assembly of fuel cell stacks and modules, using the scalable processes and machines developed and trialed at its existing pilot plant in Crawley. Based in Horsham, the operation is located within 10 miles (16 km) of the firm’s headquarters. The site’s convenient location should minimize logistics costs and facilitate technology transfer from the pilot plant.
In accordance with Ceres Power’s roadmap, covering its combined heat and power (CHP) technology program, the company is procuring key fuel cell manufacturing equipment and equipping the facility during the first half of 2009. An initial manufacturing line is to be commissioned during the second half of the year, and manufacturing operations will commence.
Ceres expects to produce low-volume beta units in 2009 and into 2010 for sheltered field trials under the firm’s contract with British Gas, and during 2010 additional equipment will be installed to deliver the higher volumes required for commercial field trials and in preparation for volume launch with British Gas in 2011. The site is intended to provide the potential for expansion beyond the previously indicated manufacturing output of 1 million fuel cells per annum.
Ceres Power’s strategy is to manufacture in-house the intellectual property-rich fuel cell core technology and to assemble the fuel cell module, the common platform across the Ceres product range. Assembly of the CHP products in volume is intended to be completed by an assembly partner in accordance with the firm’s design.
The development of a UK-based volume fuel cell manufacturing facility will create a significant number of new, skilled ‘green-collar’ jobs, both directly at the facility and in the surrounding area through the company’s extended supply chain.