Ceres Jumps on Fuel Cell Deal With German Auto Parts Supplier

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Robert Bosch GmbH plans to spend several hundred million euros to make fuel cells with technology from Ceres Power Holdings Plc. in the U.K.

The move will see the German automotive-parts supplier develop a manufacturing capacity of 200 megawatts per year of fuel cells by 2024 for the niche technology that’s so far mostly been deployed in the U.S. and Asia, Ceres said in a statement.

The technology could form part of a growing trend to find ways to provide dependable, low-carbon power generation to complement intermittent renewable sources.

Bosch, which owns about 18% of Ceres, agreed to use the technology after conducting a roughly two-year pilot phase. The 200 megawatts of production will be spread out between factories in Bamberg, Wernau and Homburg. Ceres said it expects to make around 23 million pounds ($30.5 million) on the deal from 2021 to 2023.

Shares in Ceres soared as much as 12% in London on the news.

While most fuel cells in the world are used for vehicles, there is a growing market to use them for power generation as well. The market for stationary fuel cell applications grew to 240 megawatts in 2018, up from 148 megawatts in 2014, according to BloombergNEF.

The technology marketed by Ceres can use either natural gas or hydrogen. With natural gas as the fuel, the machine separates out the hydrogen first before using it to make electricity.

That means the machines could be plugged into the gas grid to deploy for flexible power generation now and later be switched to run on hydrogen produced from renewable power as that becomes cheaper and more widely available.

“If you think that to meet our carbon targets we have to electrify most of society, you’re going to need flexible power generation that can do that in a net zero way and that’s exactly what fuel cells do,” said Phil Caldwell, Ceres Power’s chief executive officer.

Bosch said it sees a variety of applications for the fuel cells such as in cities, factories, data centers and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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