CFC hopes for investors
Moreover, it has been ascertained several times that the most important sticking point remains the overly high prices of FC heating systems. Schumacher confirmed that the reduction in costs in the scope of the callux project has not taken place to the aspired extent, which is why he suggested the market activation via an NIP follow-up program. Andreas Ballhausen, who is also Managing Director of CFC GmbH, said: “Ceramic Fuel Cells has invested 300 million Euros in this technology. […] We have to admit that at the current moment in time, the production costs are at a very high level. We need the market launch program in order to create volume for the industry.”
Despite its financial problems in Australia and Heinsberg, surprisingly, Ceramic Fuel Cells once again attended the IBZ shared stand. Commenting on the business perspectives, Ballhausen said that “CFC isn’t insolvent, but we are in preliminary insolvency proceedings and are looking for investors. […] We are now making a kind of new start and are very confident of finding investors in this process and being able to keep our business up and running.”
SOFCpower becomes SOLIDpower
After a year of absence from the German FC sector, Guido Gummert returned to the Hanover trade show once again. The native of Hamburg, who led european fuel cell for many years following its foundation in 1999 and who then led Baxi Innotech and brought the Gamma Premio 1.0 to market maturity, had previously left the Baxi Group in September 2013. The device which he helped develop is now being marketed by SenerTec. Gummert now works for the Italian company SOLIDpower. From June 2014 onwards, in Hamburg, he managed the business surrounding the merger of SOFCpower from northern Italy and HTceramix, a spin-off of EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland, which was renamed SOLIDpower in early 2015. The GmbH has been situated in Wentorf near Hamburg from February 2015 onwards.
Within a six month period, Gummert pushed the system development forwards to the extent that it proved possible for the EngenTM 2500 to be certificated, and for the first six devices to enter test operations in the scope of the ene.field program. Another 80 devices are set to follow by 2016, before market maturity is aimed for in early 2017. In Germany, the first two test units are set to enter operation in the summer of 2015 at Augsburg City Utilities [Stadtwerke Augsburg].
The EngenTM 2500 is – in contrast to the Baxi (PEM) system – a high temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). He had the following to say on the change of systems: “With the PEM we had reached certain limits.” Gummert does not believe these limits to apply to his 2.5 kW electrical unit or 2.0 kW thermal SOFC unit. Instead, he reported of an electrical effectiveness level of 50% and an overall effectiveness level of 90%, whereby he believes 74% to be possible.” He also said that: “A high level of electrical effectiveness – as shown by all the previous results – is always associated with a thermal component which is subject to a greater degree of stress and with a clearly lower level of overall efficiency.”
When asked about the essential differences from the competitor CFC, who is currently experiencing difficulties and who also uses the SOFC technology, Olivier Bucheli from HTceramix told that with SOLIDpower, the temperature of 700 °C for a high temperature cell was moderate, and that the stack costs were exceptionally low. The latter is not least due to the depth of production. Gummert, who with his new company has once again been a member of the Initiative Brennstoffzelle since 1st January 2015, intends to overcome the advantages of other manufacturers who have demonstrated many more operational hours during field tests, by offering superior terms of warranty.
Alberto Ravagni, CEO of the company group which is based in Mezzolombardo, northern Italy, explained: “We are currently continuing with the development of the stack technology with one of our companies in Switzerland, while in Italy we are focusing on the development and production of energy devices and in Germany we are currently launching the Engen 2500 on the market.”