IN A WORLD where looming fuel shortages are a growing concern, and gas prices are on the up, energy efficiency is key. Enter Ceres Power, the Horsham-based alternative energy company that this Tuesday welcomed Mark Prisk MP, the Government’s Business and Enterprise minister, to officially open its volume fuel cell manufacturing centre in Foundry Lane.
Inspired by research undertaken at Imperial College London, Ceres Power is a prime example of Britain’s technological ingenuity. The antiquated nature of our country’s electricity network, supplied by regional power stations, results in inefficiency on a monumental scale - millions of pounds worth of energy is lost as energy travels along power lines. Ceres Power aims to solve this problem.
Its ground-breaking new product is its solution - the Combined Heat and Power unit (or CHP), a solid state device that generates both heat and electricity from gas without burning it.
Made to resemble a conventional boiler, the unassuming unit is shaping to look like the future of domestic power. The pioneering technology involves high-tech ‘fuel cell stacks’ being fed air and gas, which via some impressive material sciences technology, generates both heat and power in the home. By avoiding the need to transport electricity, a much larger percentage of the converted energy can be used, resulting in a cleaner and more efficient system that could revolutionize how we power our houses.
‘Genuinely inspiring’ was the minister’s reaction after touring the Horsham facility, meeting some of the employees and discussing strategy with senior management at Ceres Power.
“I think we are moving into a new generation of how to heat and power your home, and Ceres Power is showing the way,” said the minister. “Ceres Power’s work in developing a revolutionary new product that can convert natural gas into heat and electricity without burning it will cut costs of annual energy bills and has the potential to make a major contribution to reducing carbon emission in millions of homes across the Uk and Europe.”
Mark Prisk even expressed his interest in having a CHP unit in his own home, subject to Mrs Prisk’s approval! An update as to when the units will be available to buy will be presented in September. However, Ceres has already partnered with British Gas to sell, install, and service CHP Units in UK homes, offering customers savings of up to 25 per cent on annual energy costs, whilst reducing CO2 emissions.
The road has been long - more than a decade since the initial concept was born - and it has taken £100 million investment to reach this stage. On the brink of commercialization, the company’s future is still not certain, but the potential benefits and scale are both exciting and vast.
Brian Count, executive chairman said: “Ceres Power is committed to continuing to commercialise its world-leading technology and position the UK as a leader in the deployment and manufactore of low carbon advanced manufactored products. We look forward to creating significant further skilled jobs in the UK and generating export opportunities in partnership with the UK Government.”
The company has already created 170 highly skilled jobs in Horsham and its Crawley research and development centre, increasing its workforce by 46 per cent over the past 18 months.
In June, the company won the Green Award at the County Times Business Awards, recognizing its pioneering work creating local ‘Green collar’ jobs, and its innovation in the green sector.
In today’s economic climate, efforts are being made across the world to improve the way we obtain our energy. Companies such as Ceres Power, a world leader in fuel cell technology, are an inspiration. That it is happening in Horsham should be a source of pride for all in the locality.