Shares in Ceres Power Holdings (CWR.L) performed strongly again this morning, as the AIM-listed fuel cell company demonstrates its domestic wall-mountable integrated combined heat and power (CHP) boiler.
In a press release, Ceres said:
” [This] represents an important milestone in the Company’s residential CHP programme with British Gas and highlights the commercial potential of the product. The compact and wall-mountable design will enable access to both the boiler replacement and new build residential mass markets in the UK and overseas.
“As part of an ongoing testing programme, the integrated wall-mountable CHP Unit has already demonstrated the capability of generating electricity and all of the central heating and hot water requirements of a typical home, avoiding the need for a separate boiler. The compact CHP Unit uses the same natural gas, water and electricity connections as a boiler, and is thus easy to install.”
In March 2006 Ceres signed a £2.7m deal with British Gas, part-funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, to supply domestic CHP units. Peter Bance, Ceres CEO , said at the time: “Most UK households will have their own power station [one day]. It will be massively cheaper than buying electricity from the grid.”
According to Mr Bance, the Ceres CHP unit will not cost much more than a conventional boiler. It runs on regular natural gas, which is converted into energy in the fuel cell. Mr Bance said that households may consume around the same amount of gas but all their electricity would be generated for free, as a by-product.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Mr Bance. “For a very modest price premium to a boiler, households will save £400 or £500 a year.”
When I first heard about this, it seemed quite a seductive idea. However, I’m beginning to wonder how it will work in practice, especially in tandem with other domestic power systems such as photovoltaics or solar water heating. And after all, it still uses fossil fuel, so it’s perhaps not quite the magic bullet that it’s presented as.
A copy of the presentation will be available shortly at www.cerespower.com