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Ceramic Fuel Cells hit by Nuon pull out

Dutch energy company Nuon has broken off its partnership with fuel cell developer Ceramic Fuel Cells.

The decision was taken despite the micro-Combined Heat and Power (microCHP) product development project hitting all performance targets and means a forward order of 100,000 units will no longer go ahead from 2012.

Paul Hermans, New Business Development Manager for Nuon, said: “The test with the microCHP unit met all technical targets.

“However, in order to keep focus in our current product development portfolio, Nuon has decided not to further pursue the development of a fuel cell based microCHP at this moment.

“Accordingly the parties will not proceed with the next stage of the project or with the conditional forward order for commercial products”.

Ceramic Fuel Cells chief executive Brendan Dow said Nuon’s proposed takeover by Swedish based Vattenfall had contributed to the decision.

He said: “Their (Vattenfall’s) renewable and clean energy investment currently focuses on large scale centralised power like off shore wind, carbon capture and storage and biomass, but unfortunately at this stage they are not a leader on distributed energy or microgeneration.”

The project had trialed a unit comprising Ceramic Fuel Cells' NetGenPlus fuel cell unit connected to a boiler unit.

Mr Dow said the development project had gone well: “Nuon were extremely happy with the technology and it has performed very well – meeting or exceeding all targets including power export, electrical efficiency and lifetime.

“It is very disappointing that their strategic review has led to this decision.”

Mr Dow added: “We are currently talking to potential replacements in the same markets. The data and engineering completed and the success of the trial has allowed us to clearly understand the commercial and market requirements for our technology.

'It means a replacement partner will start well advanced in the commercial process and will be able to develop relatively quickly towards early commercial deployment.”

Mr Dow insisted he believed Ceramic Fuel Cells could still hit its financial targets and said despite the existing uncertainty in the global economy other partners – including e.on in the UK – remained committed.