I have previously mentioned that Swedish Stirling’s focus in 2021 is: 1) commercial roll-out in South Africa; 2) new market launches; and 3) the start of serial production of PWR BLOK. After the year’s first quarter, I can tell you that we are following the plan to the letter.
Developments in South Africa are still going our way. We have, throughout the period, continued our talks in a very positive spirit with Samancor, Richards Bay Alloys and Glencore about the agreements for new installations in South Africa. We were also able, thanks to reduced transmission of corona in South Africa, to hold the official inauguration of our pilot installation at TC Smelter, with both Desmond McManus, CEO of Samancor Chrome in South Africa, and Håkan Juholt, Sweden’s ambassador, as guests of honour. The discussions in South Africa on different measures to further facilitate operations for the country’s ferrochrome industry have continued to benefit us. One example is the proposal to simplify the regulatory framework for larger installations by completely removing the licence requirement for installations of less than 50MW. This corresponds to 125 PWR BLOK units, and no single project we are currently working on reaches that level.
We also signed a declaration of intent in March with SMS Group for a pilot installation of one PWR BLOK unit in Spain. And with that, the next market we are going to launch in after South Africa is Europe. The partnership with SMS Group, which is one of the world’s leading groups of companies in the field of plant construction and machine technology for the steel and non-ferrous metals industry, also promises greater future benefits for Swedish Stirling. In SMS group, we have a partner who already has collaboration, presence and a service and maintenance network established with the global metal industry, and so we do not need to deploy such major resources in order to introduce and sell the PWR BLOK technology. Instead, we are ultimately going to be able to focus more on production and product development.
In our third area of focus, which is serial production, we have concentrated on developing and adapting our distribution chain for greater production volumes, increased our capacity and carried out long-term testing at our production facility in Sibbhult, as well as worked on development of the first version of PWR BLOK generation 3. Our first serial produced PWR BLOK will be shipped by the end of the year, according to plan.
In conclusion, I can state that discussions about the climate and the future predicted shortage of electricity have continued to gain traction during the first months of the year. The reasoning in these discussions has often been complex, and it is sometimes difficult to evaluate which measures and forms of energy are best from an environmental point of view. Presently, it seems that hydrogen is the new black (or rather green) if you are to believe the media. It is not without a certain satisfaction that I can state that PWR BLOK already operates on hydrogen as fuel today. The residual gases from the metal industry, which our Stirling engines convert into electricity, contain in extreme cases up to 50 percent hydrogen.
When I founded the company in 2008, it was with the vision of establishing Stirling technology as the best option for local, sustainable electricity generation. Our initial focus is of course on converting residual gases into electricity, but we know that more and more of the world’s electricity generation needs to be fully renewable in locally based and small-scale installations. The Stirling technology is therefore a particularly attractive solution, as it can run on hydrogen, ethanol, biogas or other fuels. With our Stirling engines and a renewable source of energy, it is possible to generate renewable electricity 24/7, and independently of the weather and wind. No expensive or complex storage solutions are required either. The modularity of our product prevents loss of efficiency in small-scale production, which other technologies experience with combustion-based energy production. This enables our technology to produce electricity on a small-scale and locally, in places where it is not viable to extend the electrical grid or when the grid capacity is not sufficient. I know that the Stirling engine is the renewable energy source of the future, and that others are soon going to realise this. Then we make industrial history.
Swedish Stirling AB