Ervington Investments, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has a 15% stake in Surrey fuel cell provider AFC Energy for £8.6m.
AFC Energy has stated that the investment from the owner of Chelsea football club will allow it to invest in its low cost fuel cell technology over the next few years.
Ian Williamson, chief executive of AFC Energy, said that the Abramovich connection will “provide high level access to energy users and potential partners globally.”
The industrial fuel cell power company invested £180,000 in a pilot production plant in Surrey earlier this year but has a license to manufacture at larger scales in preparation full-scale commercial deployment.
Currently, the plant has the capability of producing up to 20,000 fuel cell electrodes a year, with its average fuel cell requiring 200 electrodes.
The investment from Mr Abramovich’s investment arm will enable the company to step up from this small-scale trial to fully automated high volume production while increasing the lifespan of the electrodes.
Ian Williamson, chief executive of AFC Energy, argues that hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner and more efficient than technologies that use combustion to generate energy, such as gas-fired power stations.
“Fuel cells supply continuous, base-load power unlike other clean energy sources such as solar and wind power,” he said. “Ervington’s support enables us to take full advantage of our commercialisation plans.”
AFC Energy, which employs 40 people, expects there to be many more jobs in fuel cell production as the fuel cell industry grows and AFC Energy begins exporting the technology around the world.
Ervington purchased the equity on the London Stock Exchange and has entered into a 12 month lock-in whereby it cannot dispose of the new shares during this period.