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Ceres Power secures fuel cell manufacturing base

A Horsham building has been secured by alternative energy group Ceres Power as a UK base for the manufacture of fuel cells for its CHP programme with British Gas.
The 50,000 sq.ft. facility is not only within 10 miles of Ceres Power's headquarters, it is also close to Ceres's pilot plant in Crawley and will manufacture fuel cells based on the processes and machines developed and trialled at Ceres' existing pilot plant.

Assembly of the CHP products in volume is intended to be completed by an assembly partner in line with Ceres’ design. The development of the UK plant will create skilled green-collar jobs at the facility and the surrounding area via its supply chain.

Ceres Power says it is on track to complete all Alpha milestones under the British Gas CHP (Combined Heat and Power) programme. The company also stated that since December, 1kW CHP product testing began.

The company's CHP roadmap will see low volume beta units produced in 2009 and field trials carried out in 2010. More equipment will be installed at the facility to deliver higher volumes in preparation for volume launch with British Gas in 2011. The company hopes the site will ease expansion beyond the one million fuel cells per annum, previously estimated by the firm.

Ceres Power's interim results for the six months ended December 2008, reported the group held £24.4m in net cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments. For this period, Ceres stated revenue increased to £482,000, up from £279,000. It suffered a pretax loss of £3.3m compared with a loss of £3m the year before.

The company has successfully built and tested a 1kW fuel cell module which was operated on three different fuel types, mains natural gas, methane and propane.

Also during this period, a £2.5m development and trialling programme has been secured with Calor Gas for LPG CHP with a volume call-off order from Calor Gas for 20,000 CHP products.

Dr Brian Count, chairman, said: 'I am pleased to report that Ceres has achieved the milestones set out in the roadmap communicated to the market last year. The group anticipates achieving the sign-off of the Alpha phase of the programme during Q2 2009 that will trigger the next milestone payment of £2m by British Gas'.

He added: 'We have secured a second major supply and distribution agreement and this additional contract helps further underpin our investment in the UK-based volume fuel cell manufacturing facility.'
23 March 2009

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