AFC Energy PLC, the British fuel cell company, announced this week that it will demonstrate its H-Power fuel cell platform in collaboration with Spanish construction firm Acciona Construcción. In an interview with the “financial media portal” Proactive Investors, AFC’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Bond suggested that the collaboration could open the door for the company’s products as temporary power solutions at construction sites, saying “it does present us with some interesting and large opportunities.”
According to its Web site, Acciona has a global business portfolio built on “provision of renewable energy, infrastructure, water and services.” Revenues in 2019 were €7.2 billion (USD $8.1 billion). The company’s Sustainability Master Plan undergirds its ambition “to lead the transition towards a low-carbon economy.” The company states that it “has been carbon neutral since 2016, offsetting all CO2 emissions generated which it could not reduce.”
A June 2019 Ammonia Energy article described AFC’s evolving roster of promising market opportunities. Power for construction sites was not on the list. In the Proactive Investors interview, Bond said that AFC’s launch of its Hydrogen Power Generator product line in December 2019 (which it announced formally in February 2020) caught the attention of a number of stakeholders – including Acciona. “So one of the opportunities that has come from [the launch] is [Acciona] contacting us to look at utilizing our fuel cell in [the] context of decarbonization of construction sites.”
In a June 1, 2020 article published by S&P Global Platts (a provider of information “for the energy and commodities markets”), Bond said that the construction sector had seen “growing regulation, such as Europe’s Non Road Mobile Machinery regulations, come into force and with that, a movement by constructors and contractors towards a more sustainable on site power generation alternative to diesel.”
The demonstration will deploy a 160 kW alkaline fuel cell at an Acciona construction site starting “at the end of this year or early next year,” according to Bond. The Acciona system will include an ammonia cracker and a battery energy storage system, according to the S&P Global Platts article.
While AFC is sharing the cost of the project with Acciona, Bond clearly expects the demonstration to lead in short order to commercial orders. “We’re not necessarily afraid to put our balance sheet at risk on some of these things. We know there’s a big opportunity,” he said. “We’re talking 1-2 months of demonstration. We’re not looking at this being a 12-month exercise.”
The trial we’re talking about is not so much to test the technology but testing the application of it and looking at how the system works in a real-world construction environment; how it can be used to operate on different fuel types whether it is utilizing direct hydrogen or utilizing ammonia which is a far more energy dense carrier of hydrogen; and looking at the overall economics of different scenarios; and looking at what can be achieved through our alkaline fuel cell to support their objectives of decarbonized construction sites.Adam Bond, “Interview: AFC Energy in ‘buoyant mood’ after agreeing deal with Spanish construction group ACCIONA,” Proactive Investors, June 1, 2020
He confirmed that AFC is currently “talking to … a range of construction companies.”