ABB is entering into a strategic partnership with UK-based AFC Energy to develop a new generation of DC fast-charging solutions for locations with limited access to the grid. The Swiss Group will build on AFC’s system that uses fuel cells and battery backup to deliver high-power charges at remote sites.
AFC Energy unveiled their CH2ARGE off-grid charging solution powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system and combined with a battery for intermediate energy storage last year. With ABB coming in, the solution will now include batteries and fast charging technology from ABB.
The Swiss company considers this a “strategic collaboration” and expects to deliver a “fully autonomous, high power EV charging system, to provide an end-to-end solution for high power charging sites with limited grid connection”.
The partners say they will offer the new DC charging stations from the second half of 2021, initially in Europe, the USA and “elsewhere”.
They did not disclose details about the final set-up but said the combination would result in a “new solution that will provide a secure, efficient, flexible and reliable local power supply”.
In its original form, AFC Energy’s hydrogen fuel cell system is designed to fit in an ISO container and offered in three different configurations, providing between two and hundred charge points per site. CH2ARGE contains AFC’s small hydrogen fuel cell solution along with an inverter that transfers the energy generated by the fuel cell to the charger. The battery is a 48-V model. The system could deliver enough power to charge an electric vehicle to 80 per cent in an hour and was compatible “with all EV charging platforms,” AFC claimed at the time.
Announcing the new cooperation today, Adam Bond, Chief Executive Officer at AFC Energy, said: “Today marks a historic milestone in the commercialisation of our proprietary hydrogen fuel cell as we commence a long-term relationship with ABB.” He also emphasised ABB would provide the relatively young company with “strong and credible access to key customer channels both in Europe and overseas.”
Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for E-mobility Infrastructure Solutions at ABB, pointed to AFC Energy’s “cost-effective alkaline-based fuel cell technology” that has made them “a perfect match.” The executive also sees the new solutions opening opportunities beyond the tradition electric vehicle market. “The DC fast-charging system will have applications for commercial and logistics carriers, marine and urban transport,” said Muehlon and added segments like data centres and utilities as possible purchasers.
AFC Energy’s technology developed in the UK is already in use in industrial gas plants and as an alternative to diesel generators or energy source for local power needs. AFC Energy has been developing the system for twelve years.
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