German manufacturer Bosch has received a €161m ($177m) grant from the German government to begin industrialisation of its stationary solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), which convert hydrogen to electricity for decentralised power supply.

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The “Bosch Power Units” — described by company CEO Stefan Hartung as “networked small power plants” — had been approved by the European Commission as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI), giving Germany permission to hand over the €160,712,354.91 grant under the bloc’s state-aid rules.

The funding was officially presented to Bosch on Monday by Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also the minister for economic affairs and climate action, on a visit to the Bosch research campus in Renningen, Baden-Württemberg state, near Stuttgart.

He described the SOFCs as a “highly innovative key technology for [the] hydrogen ramp-up” that could “now go into series production”.

The company explained in a statement that “Bosch sees the highly efficient solid oxide fuel cell as an essential building block for a sustainable energy supply”.

In 2018, British SOFC manufacturer Ceres Power signed a strategic co-operation and licensing deal with Bosch to help the latter develop SOFCs.

In the US, Bloom Energy has been producing SOFCs since 2010, while Cummins received $4.6m in US federal grants in 2020 to advance the commercialisation of its own SOFCs.

SOFCs are said to be more efficient than other types of fuel cell and can therefore produce more electricity per kilogram of hydrogen.