Turbo Genset fills first clean energy contract

UK power technology developer Turbo Genset has unveiled the first commercial order for its 1.2MW generation system.

The company, a spin-out from Imperial College London, will supply the system to a US customer to be used for converting landfill gas into ‘green’ electricity for re-sale.

It hopes the deal will mark the beginning of an upward curve in its financial position, which has groaned under the burden of heavy R&D costs.

Turbo Genset is attempting to build a global business for its high-speed generators, which use technology first developed at Imperial to convert energy from gas and other sources into a clean power supply of a specific voltage and frequency.

It wants the generators to be used around the world to provide stand-alone or back-up power supplies to IT centres, office blocks and hospitals, and by industrial customers involved in food and chemicals.

The company, which floated in 2000, said the US deal would allow it to demonstrate the ability of its generators to run on non-conventional fuels such as biogas.

Turbo Genset said the initial contract would be worth about $750,000 (£411,000). If the first system performs as expected, the company will supply further units to other landfill sites where biogas can be converted to electricity and sold back to the local grid.

The company said a number of US states, especially in the mid-West, would pay attractive rates for energy based on landfill gas. It hopes such installations could reach a rate of one per month.

The deal was a boost for Turbo Genset which, despite winning widespread acclaim for its technology, has yet to convert it into a major revenue earner.

Its sales income for the six months ending June was less than £600,000, a 17 per cent improvement on its 2003 figure. But the company is still having to spend millions on R&D and the associated costs of establishing its products in the industry.

Turbo Genset’s losses grew to £4.6m for the period compared to just under £4m for the equivalent six months in 2003, leading the company to reassure its investors that it would concentrate on high-value commercial opportunities and reducing its rate of cash burn.

Turbo Genset claimed other commercial deals were well advanced. It has already reached agreement with Tyree Power of Australia to supply combined-cycle generating systems from the first quarter of next year.

The company said it was confident that a hotel operator in India would sign up for two 400KW units.

Turbo Genset has also been contracted by Sweden’s SKF to design and build a high-speed motor and associated drive electronics.

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