Proton Power Systems plc has announced another major step forward in its drive towards the widespread introduction of its technology to the transport market.
The company, registered at St Ann’s Wharf in Newcastle, has received official approval for road service from the Germany authorities for its groundbreaking HyRange Fuel Cell System, integrated in a Newton electric truck.
This means the environmentally-friendly vehicle can now be operated without limitation in Europe.
It could also pave the way for the commercial applications of the technology in buses and light duty vehicles.
Listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2006, Proton designs, develops and produces fuel cells and fuel cell electric hybrid systems.
Its powerful hydrogen fuel cell range extenders can dramatically boost the distance electric buses and other vehicles can travel between charges, or provide sufficient power for the vehicle to run a number of functions at the same time in challenging conditions.
The company has already been involved in talks with major transport operators, who see the potential of the system.
Its Newton electric truck was tested for 24 months in Germany, where much of the company’s product development is led by its subsidiary Motor Fuel Cell GmbH.
Currently, Germany has 15 hydrogen fuelling stations in operation.
Plans are in place, however, to increase that number to 100 by the end of 2018 and 400 by 2023.
Proton chairman John Wall said: “We are very pleased to have finished the complex process of road approval for our HyRange system.
“This allows the regular operation of the vehicle with our fuel cell range extender and significantly extends the operating range and on-board power of an electric truck.
“It also opens the door for the operation of such vehicles in commercial applications and demonstrates to customers that HyRange is ready for regular operation.”
Wall added that the HyRange system addressed the needs of bus and light duty vehicle manufacturers.
“It’s a big step forward to go from prototype to the actual vehicle that’s been monitored for the required period of time and been proven safe and appropriate for commercial use,” he said.
“We’re now in discussion with a number of potential customers who want to try this out in their existing fleet – those would be large fleet operators with lots of delivery vehicles.
“But more importantly, the range extender can be put into buses.
“At the moment, there is a huge amount of pressure, particularly in London, to move to cleaner transport.
“The total cost for operators is either the same or less and the running costs of electric vehicles are much more predictable.”
He added that London was not only the biggest market in the UK, but the market that led the rest of the world.
Proton was now able to prove the effectiveness of its technology was considerably greater than hybrid models previously viewed as the ideal, so the potential for the technology was significant.
The news comes after a year of great strides within the company’s research and development, focused on increasing the power output of its systems.
In 2013, it expanded its fuel stack portfolio with high-powered product, the PM400, and through its subsidiary SPower, launched a solar storage product, the SPBS3000, which helps systems store power to be released at night when demand and costs are higher. Following the announcement, Proton’s share cost rose to a peak of 7.25p, compared to 2p at the start of the year.