The commencement of fuel cell manufacturing operations, as planned and on schedule, follows the fit-out of the facility and installation of the key fuel cell manufacturing machines during Q2/Q3, and the commissioning trials of the key production processes during Q3/Q4.
The initial production line at the Horsham factory is for manufacturing intermediate-temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) units. They are being produced using the core processes and machines that were tested during the last 12–24 months at the Ceres Power pilot plant in Crawley, but on a volume-capable line. Ceres will implement ongoing process improvements during 2010, to optimize and increase the capacity of the initial SOFC production line, ahead of ‘Gamma’ version field trials and market launch.
Ceres Power is now benefiting from its decision to de-risk the SOFC manufacturing scale-up at an early stage, with the lessons learned from the pilot operation being transferred to the initial production line in Horsham. The SOFC stacks being manufactured in Horsham will be assembled by Ceres Power into fuel cell modules, with balance-of-plant components shipped from Ceres Power’s volume-capable supply chain partners.
The complete combined heat and power (CHP) products, consisting of the fuel cell modules produced from Ceres Power’s Horsham plant and boiler assemblies from Daalderop BV in the Netherlands, will be used for the Beta trials being conducted in customers’ homes during 2010.
‘We are building on the successful completion of the Alpha phase of our residential CHP program with British Gas, and the securing of our first international contract with Bord Gáis [in Ireland], and are now investing in our operational capabilities to delivery product in volume,’ says Peter Bance, CEO of Ceres Power.
Bance continues: ‘The experience we have gained at the Crawley pilot plant is proving invaluable as we scale-up in our Horsham mass production facility. Commencing initial manufacturing operations at our new factory marks an important step forward for Ceres Power in the commercialization of our fuel cell technology, as we enter our Beta field trials with British Gas.’