Bosch is entering a strategic partnership with solid-oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) specialist Ceres Power. Bosch also plans to make a £9-million (US$11.5 million) strategic equity investment in Ceres for an approximate 4.4% equity stake. The two companies signed a collaboration and license agreement, for the further development of technology, and establishment of small-volume production operations at Bosch, as well as a share purchase agreement, on 20 August.
Ceres and Bosch have been working together through a joint development agreement (JDA) that Ceres first announced on 10 January 2018. Bosch was not named at the time for confidentiality reasons.
The Collaboration and Licence Agreement includes joint development agreements. These agreements provide very significant staged revenues to Ceres through technology transfer and licensing and longer-term royalties on 5 kW SteelCell stacks, as well as initial engineering services. The initial value to Ceres Power to 2020 will be around £20 million (US$26 million), subject to performance criteria.
Ceres Power, a UK-based spin-out from Imperial College, is the developer of SteelCell low-cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology. (Earlier post.) Five global OEMs have signed joint development agreements to work with the SteelCell including Cummins (earlier post), Honda (earlier post) and Nissan (earlier post).
The properties of the SteelCell enable start-up times and robustness to vibration which make it commercially viable for automotive applications such as range extenders for electric vehicles.
Ceres’ strategy is to commercialize the next-generation SOFC technology through mass production with partners, with a particular focus on using this technology for grid-based and distributed power generation. The intention is that SOFC systems will be used in cities, factories, and data centers, and also as a power supply for charging points for electric vehicles.
Bosch believes that the highly efficient fuel cell, with its very low emissions, has an important role to play in energy systems’ security of supply and flexibility. Fuel-cell technology will bring the move to alternative energy a step closer, and we will be working on this with our development partner Ceres Power.—Dr. Stefan Hartung, the Bosch management board member whose responsibilities include the Energy and Building Technology business sector
By 2050, it is expected that more than 6 billion people worldwide—70% of the global population—will live in cities. Even now, the world’s metropolises account for 75% of the energy consumed worldwide. By 2035, global energy consumption will have increased 30%. In the future, meeting this increased demand for electricity solely with large, centralized power stations will not be possible.
The vision for our partnership with Bosch is to set a new industry standard for solid-oxide fuel cells, leading to widespread adoption in distributed power supplies. By combining Ceres’ unique Steel Cell technology with Bosch’s engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain strength we will establish a strong partnership that can make our technology even more competitive and prepare it for mass production.—Phil Caldwell, the CEO of Ceres Power
SOFC technology uses an electrochemical reaction in the fuel cell stack to convert fuel such as natural gas or hydrogen into electricity. The environmental benefit is considerable, with much lower emissions than from power stations that use a combustion process.
Together with Ceres Power, Bosch will work on making SOFC technology available for various applications: the vision is to have small power stations set up throughout cities, as well as in industrial areas. Because these standardized plants are highly flexible, they will be able to cover peak demand better, as well as faster, than conventional plants.
The aim is for one SOFC module to generate 10 kW of electrical power. Where more electricity is needed, any number of modules with the same output can simply be interconnected.