We first wrote about AFC Energy (LON:AFC), a company developing zero emission technologies for cars and industry, back in June last year and at the time we were fairly critical of the alkaline fuel cell maker, arguing that a lot of what the company says remains in the realms of promise rather than delivery.
But a deal with Swiss electrical systems maker ABB in December has now made the company’s progress much more substantial, giving it its first partnership with a major equipment manufacturer that has the capacity to put the firm properly on map for charging electric vehicles.
The share price has reflected this change with a 390% increase from late November. While for most of 2020 AFC Energy traded in the range between 15.50 and 19.50, around the time of the deal with ABB in December shares started gaining a lot of ground to finally peak at 85.00 in January. Since then the stock has dipped back to 60.00 at the beginning of February but shares are again on an upward trajectory.
The company has also significantly just appointed Dr Michael Rendall as its new chief engineer, previously the head of engineering and industrialisation at Dyson. He is a specialist in the conversion of ammonia into electricity, which is an area AFC has been focusing on.
AFC Energy and Extreme E Races
AFC Energy is likely to catch more headlines this year thanks to its involvement in Extreme E races, a racing series for electric cars, which will include major racing names such as current Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
During the series the Odyssey 21 electric SUVs especially designed for Extreme E will go off-road in difficult terrain such as the Amazon rainforest or the Arctic. The inaugural race is scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia in April, coronavirus permitting, and the theme of the series will be raising awareness of different aspects of climate change.
SUVs taking part in the races will be supplied with AFC Energy’s hydrogen fuelled zero-emission power generators, giving the firm the chance to showcase how its generators are able to withstand extreme conditions like high or very low temperature, humidity or high altitude.
Away from the glitz and glamour of the races the ABB deal will play a crucial role for AFC in the long term. The current drawback of electric cars is that it can take them 45 minutes to several hours to charge up at a petrol station and then they may only be able to run for a few hundred miles in one go. The charging technology has yet to catch up with the explosion of new and trendy looking electric cars on the market.
Switzerland’s ABB has been on the forefront of producing fast charges with one of its models being able to speed charge a car in about eight minutes. In this new partnership with AFC Energy the two firms will focus on delivering a solution for high power charging sites with limited grid connection.
The demand for fast charging and off-grid charging, which is AFC’s forte, is set to increase over the next 10 to 15 years as European and UK targets for electric vehicles speed up the increase in those types of cars on the road. ABB, which has a history of gobbling up smaller technology developers, estimates that the global EV charging market will expand by over 30% per year over the next decade and says that the technology can also be used for commercial and logistics carriers, shipping and powering of data centers and utilities.
This should all bode well for AFC Energy’s price performance throughout 2021.