Fuel cell technology close to profit, says Bloomberg

FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL:NASDAQ GM) may soon become the first company to turn a profit producing systems to generate power chemically from natural gas, according to a Bloomberg news report.

An 80% plunge in US natural gas prices since mid-2008 due to shale gas production is driving sales for the company’s container-sized units, analysts and business figures told reporter Reed Landberg.

FuelCell Energy’s revenue overtook manufacturing costs a year ago, said Chief Financial Officer Michael Bishop. He forecast that the firm would enter the black once annual fuel cell production tops 80 MW, up from 56 MW this year.

Partnerships with international companies are developing markets in Europe and Asia, he added.

A FuelCell unit

FuelCell’s biggest customer is South Korea’s largest steelmaker Posco, which ordered 70 MW of power plants in 2011 and agreed to buy another 120 MW in March. Posco owns 17% of FuelCell and aims to manufacture its units under licence from 2015.

FuelCell’s systems produce electricity for about 15 cents/kWh, according to the Bloomberg report. This undercuts power from solar farms (16.9 cents/kWh) but US utilities charge an average of 11.4 cents/kWh for residential power.

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