Wartsila fuel cell spin-off to develop 50 kW units

Convion Oy, a new company set up with members of Wartsila Finland Oy's fuel cell team, is to develop 50 kW solid oxide fuel cells aimed at decentralised power and combined heat and power (CHP) applications in commercial buildings and small industry.

With nine former Wartsila (OMX:WRTBV)  employees, the new firm will continue Wartsila's fuel cell development with an aim to be on the market in 2015, said Erkko Fontell, Convion's managing director and former director of Wartsila's fuel cell function.

wartsila fuel cell

'Convion is going to take 50 kW units forward and commercialise them,' he told COSPP. 'We are not selling the units yet. We aim to commercialise and have the the project ready in 2015.'

A capacity of 50 kW is suited to typical target applications in commercial buildings, small industrial installations and biogas plants, he added.

'It is a good size to be multiplied up to several hundred kilowatt but is sufficient for many applications,' he said.

Fontell added that Convion would target markets in Europe.

Scott Dwyer, senior analyst at fuel cell consultancy Delta-ee, told COSPP that the market could welcome the new units.

'In general for 5-50kW, we see new growth opportunities appearing in Europe and there are a lot of promising signs for growth,' he told COSPP.

'There could be big untapped potential here, depending on several factors going its way. And at the moment , it’s not marketed strongly outside Germany, with no major utilities yet offering it as a mainstream service.'

But he added that fuel cells in this size range must compete with the 'tried and tested' conventional solution of gas engines.

Wartsila will retain a 20% ownership in the new venture but will have a limited role in its development.

'Wartsila's role in this is as a minor co-owner,' said Fontell. 'As a co-owner it is in their interest to support our success but a 50 kW product doesn't support the Wartsila portfolio very well.'

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