High hopes for Proton Power Systems, despite £3m loss

Despite reporting a loss of just over £3m for the first half of the year, the future looks bright for fuel cell manufacturer, Proton Power Systems

John Wall, chairman of Proton Power Systems
John Wall, chairman of Proton Power Systems

Despite reporting a loss of just over £3m for the first half of the year, the future looks bright for fuel cell manufacturer, Proton Power Systems.

In its interim results for the six months ended June 30, the group, registered at St Ann’s Wharf in Newcastle, also recorded a 3.4% decrease in turnover to £543,000.

Proton, however, has been busy with extensive research and development, its latest technology being one-of-a-kind in the industry and having the power to make a huge impact on Britain’s transport industry in particular.

With applications for more Government funding now in the pipeline, chairman John Wall said he was “excited about the positive development of the group” and looked forward to the coming months with confidence.

First listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, Proton designs, develops and produces fuel cells and fuel cell electric hybrid systems.

Although registered in the North East, much of its product development is led by a 55-strong team based in Munich, Germany.

The company produces and develops its own fuel cells stacks, but also offers complete systems to its customers.

During the first half of the year, it finalised a second test vehicle with batteries and its 8kW HyRange system.

“This vehicle has passed its long-term test and all necessary certificates have now been granted,” a report accompanying the latest results said.

“The group is working on a second HyRange system with up to 25kW of electric energy per hour.

“This will allow full hybrid distribution. Customers for such applications include logistics companies and food supply chains.”

The initial investment required for a HyRange powered vehicle remains higher than a comparable diesel powered vehicle, the report said. However, the group has now started to look at how to bring the cost down.

During the first six months of year, discussions were also ongoing with major bus and heavy duty vehicle manufacturers, as well as the suppliers for the bus and truck industries.

“With the new 25kW HyRange system, the group is able to reduce the TCO [total cost of ownership] for 12m buses to a level comparable with that of diesel hybrid buses,” the report said.

“This is based on the design of our systems and the optimised battery/fuel cell combination. The achievement of such low TCO is a milestone for the fuel cell industry.”

The group is likewise working closely with a UK-based bus manufacturer and has been received a “positive response” from Transport for London.

Discussions with other bus manufacturers in Spain and Poland were also progressing well and presentations have been made in Europe and Asia Pacific. Proton has also received interest from the maritime sector and, following the acquisition of SPower in February, is moving into UPS, smart grid and energy storage applications, recently winning a €857,000 project with Siemens AG.

In recent months, the group has secured funding and loans worth over £5m. It is now applying for further funds for research and development and fuel cell market introduction.

The report said: “The group’s continuing discussions with major OEM partners have highlighted that there is now a realistic opportunity for the breakthrough of fuel cell technology into the commercial domain.

“The bus market is looking for emission-free solutions for inner-city transport.

“Megacities require emission-free transport to improve air quality.”

 
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