Fuel cell manufacturer, Proton Power Systems, looks set to reap major benefits from a pioneering new division.
Through its subsidiary SPower, the company, which is registered at St Ann’s Wharf in Newcastle, recently launched a solar storage product, the SPBS3000, that will help systems store power so it can be released at night when demand and power costs are higher.
Shortly after announcing the news, Proton’s share cost to rose to a peak of 7.25p, compared to 2p at the start of this year. This values the firm, which has made more stock available, at around £48m.
“This product solves an acute problem for existing and future solar systems where power is generated during the day and sold to the grid at a discounted rate and then has to be purchased back from the grid in the evening at full commercial rates,” Proton chairman John Wall said.
“So there was a big opportunity to develop a product with a special inverter in. That way, you can either send the power generated from solar panels to the grid, or you can store it for use when you come home or even several days later.”
The new product, which can work as an uninterruptible power source and in combination with a diesel generator, is aimed at the domestic market.
It can be purchased as a full kit, with solar panels, or retro-fitted to an existing set-up.
Proton will be selling to installers rather than to end users.
“It’s a German product and Germany is one of the biggest initial markets for us – a lot of solar power is used there – although there are big markets elsewhere in Europe too,” Wall added.
“When we announced the product, people understood the significance of what we had done and were very excited about it.
“It’s quite ironic, because this is just one part of our business, but it does have the potential to be quite big. It’s a good product, it’s sensibly priced and there’s a demand for it.”
Proton took over SPower in February, creating a new branch for the company in UPS, smart grid and energy storage applications. As well as the success of the solar storage system, it recently won an €857,000 project with Siemens AG
First listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, Proton’s usual work involves the design, development and production of 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 near Munich, Germany.
Recently published interim results for the six months ending June 30 showed the group made a loss of just over £3m, while turnover decreased 3.4% to £543,000.
An accompanying report, however, highlighted how Proton was making great strides in research and development, and shortly afterwards the company revealed that, through its German subsidiary, Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, it had developed the first ever battery and fuel cell operated electric commercial vehicle in the 7.5 to 12 tonne weight class.