Acta S.p.A. (AIM: ACTA), the clean energy products company, announces the following update on its commercial activities and business outlook ahead of the Company’s Interim Results for the six months ended 30 June 2013 that are expected to be announced on or around 25 September 2013.
The first half of 2013 has seen important and far-reaching developments in the commercial activities of the Company.
Following the capital increase of £2.1 million completed in January 2013 the Company has increased the number of its engineering and production staff and secured 600m2 of new rented production facilities adjacent to its current site, expanding its production facilities fourfold. In April 2013 the Company announced the launch of the Acta Power, an advanced energy storage system for use in back-up power and renewable energy storage applications. This product has received strong and immediate commercial interest, in particular from the telecommunications industry, and paid trials are now underway with major mobile phone network operators.
Acta Power: the ”Hydrogen Battery”
The Acta Power is an energy storage system that integrates Acta’s unique electrolyser technology with a fuel cell system, coupled with an advanced remote monitoring and management interface. The system has been designed to meet the needs of the large and rapidly growing market for back-up power systems for telecom base stations in remote, bad-grid and off-grid locations in Asia and elsewhere.
By generating its own hydrogen on site, the system avoids the cost and logistics barriers of delivering bottled hydrogen to the site. At €30,000 - €40,000 for a 4kW, 1m3 system suitable for base station applications, the capital cost is approximately half the current selling price of comparable systems using a fuel cell and standard PEM electrolyser. The low maintenance and service costs make the system cost-competitive with battery or diesel systems over a two-three year period, since the replacement cycle of batteries and the frequent maintenance and refuelling requirements of gensets can be avoided. In addition the system offers a significantly lower theft risk than these traditional solutions, which is an important cost and service factor in remote locations.
Initial production units have been shipped for evaluation and live site trial with two major telecommunications operators in Australia and Africa, and Acta has today announced an additional trial to start immediately with a major telecommunications company in the Philippines. Further trials of this system are under negotiation in Indonesia and elsewhere. The Company’s commercial partners Heliocentris and Future-E are also promoting the system in their respective territories including Africa, Middle East, China and Russia.
The product addresses a very substantial market opportunity. More than 50,000 telecom base stations per annum are currently being installed in China, India, Indonesia and SE Asia, and a growing proportion of these are in off-grid locations where the Acta Power can offer significant cost savings and performance benefits.
The Company’s renewable energy-powered electrolysers also address the market for domestic renewable energy storage systems, and on 16 July 2013 Acta was pleased to announce the first UK paid trial of its technology in a wind turbine application, due to commence shortly. In this trial, surplus renewable energy that cannot be fed into the grid or consumed immediately on site will be converted to hydrogen and stored for later use to power a domestic boiler.
Hydrogen produced from renewables can be used to generate local power through a fuel cell, for light electric vehicles (e.g. fuel cell scooter), through a hydrogen boiler for heating, or on a larger scale fed into the gas grid for power to gas applications.
The Company has continued to improve the performance of its electrolyser systems and has seen an increasing number of repeat orders in this area. Significant product enhancements have been made to the smaller systems designed for the educational and laboratory markets and sales of these units are expected to accelerate further in the second half of the year.
Orders and shipments of the Company’s larger electrolysers (500L/hr and 1,000L/hr) have also increased during the first half of the year, including shipment of systems to the Company’s partners MVS, an industrial gas system manufacturer based in India, and APFCT, a fuel cell scooter producer in Taiwan. APFCT has been undertaking a beta-test of an 80-scooter fleet and hydrogen refuelling system in South Taiwan sponsored by the Taiwanese Government and this project is now moving towards its next stage of implementation which is intended to involve a 3,000-scooter trial.
During the first half of 2013 the Company has increased its resources in the commercial and production departments to respond to the level of demand being experienced and to support the growth of the business. An internal customer service team including installation, training and service engineers is being assembled, and the Company has begun the build-out of a qualified local service network to support customer field trials and system installations.
We expect to see an increasing level of activity in field trials in the telecommunications and energy storage markets, with current trials moving through to larger, second stage evaluations and new trials being initiated in existing and new territories. The early stage roll-out of these trials, while representing a relatively small financial commitment on the part of the customer, has the potential to provide significant revenue growth to Acta during the second half of 2013 and into 2014.
In preparing for this expected expansion of operating activities we are taking care to streamline our production processes, including through the standardisation of components and the outsourcing of sub-component assembly, while increasing internal production resources including staffing and stock levels.
We look forward to keeping the market informed of our progress in due course.