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Woodside cells a power option

WOODSIDE Petroleum is set to be one of the first Australian companies to commercially demonstrate ceramic fuel cell technology.

The company has plans to install up to three cells from Melbourne-based Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited in its new headquarters, under construction on the corner of Milligan Street and St Georges Terrace.

Woodside will lease 19 of the 23 occupiable floors in the building and the solid oxide fuel cells could supply between 40 and 50 per cent of the company’s power needs.

Western Power, which has been a 5 per cent shareholder of CFCL since 1994, has confirmed “arrangements are in place” for the building to accept the cells, and for Western Power to back up Woodside’s needs.

CFCL managing director Bruce Godfrey said CFCL was completing the proving of its first commercial generation and was moving towards commercial development.

CFCL application partners will help design systems of varying generation capacity for “leading edge customers such as Woodside”, and a pre-commercial unit could be delivered to Woodside in early 2005, Mr Godfrey said.

However, the company’s success in attracting more funding, the availability of application partners and the scaling up of commercial generation to manufacturing will affect its progress.

 Woodside employees are currently accommodated in nine buildings across the city. The company said it could not give a date to move in to the premises at 240 St Georges Terrace. The building, owned by Deutsche Office Trust, is due for completion in the first week of October.

The fit-out is scheduled for the first week of November.

Fuel cells are considered environmentally friendly.

They are energy efficient, converting energy from fuels such as natural gas into electricity without the conventional combustion stage.

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited was formed in 1992 following ground-breaking CSIRO research into the use of ceramics.

Woodside’s renewable and sustainable energy subsidiary Metasource has 32 per cent equity in CFCL.

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