Washington, DC, December 15, 2005—
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, awarded today a $3 million grant to IST Holdings (PTY) Ltd
and Plug Power Inc., who will install 400 fuel cells in remote locations
and cities of South Africa over the next three years. The fuel cells will
provide a reliable source of electricity and will replace polluting technologies
such as diesel generators.
Plug Power, a U.S. company based in
Latham, New York, will produce the five kilowatt fuel cell systems, which
IST, a South African company based in Pretoria, will import, distribute,
install, and maintain. The project is worth a total of $14 million. When
completed, the fuel cell installations will have the capacity to generate
about two megawatts – which is equivalent to the electricity needed to
power 1,300 households. The electricity is targeted initially for use in
backup and prime power applications in telecommunications and other industries
across South Africa.
The project will represent the largest
number of commercial fuel cells to be installed in a developing country
to date. The cells installed using this grant will provide a reliable source
of electricity for industrial and information technology applications and
for telecommunications systems, including wireless infrastructure. They
will help displace highly polluting and noisy diesel generators, providing
electricity more efficiently, emitting very little greenhouse gas emission,
and operating virtually noise-free.
Rachel Kyte, IFC’s Director for Environment
and Social Development, commented, “IFC is committed to helping bring
sustainable energy solutions to emerging markets. Cleaner technologies
are part of the solution. This project will not only provide a clean energy
source in South Africa, but will also provide reliable electricity to remote
areas of the country.”
Harry Coetzee, IST’s Group Chief Executive,
said, “This project is another major step in IST’s drive to implement
leading edge technology on the African continent. For more than 25 years
we have been in the business of applying engineering technology, and we
look forward to strengthening our presence in this area with our Plug Power
Mark Sperry, Plug Power’s Chief Marketing
Officer, said, “This funding is essential as we begin to work with IST
in the distribution of our fuel cell systems throughout the telecom and
utility markets in South Africa. We expect this initiative to positively
impact businesses and customers who are regularly affected by power outages
resulting in decreased reliability throughout their networks and infrastructure.”
The IFC grant is the first under the
Fuel Cell Financing Initiative for Distributed Generation Applications,
a $54 million program funded by the Global Environment Facility. The program
aims to bring clean, reliable electrical power to places in developing
countries where grid power is either not available or unreliable. Its long-term
objective is to catalyze the creation of sustainable markets for fuel cells
in developing countries. The initiative is currently the only multilateral
program that promotes stationary fuel cells.
In its first stage, the Fuel Cell Financing
Initiative will subsidize commercial and pre-commercial fuel cell projects,
granting a total amount of $9 million between 2004 and 2008. Projects will
be subsidized up to $2000 per kilowatt, or 50% of the capital costs of
the units, whichever is lower. During the second stage, the program will
provide as much as $45 million in funding, but the subsidy level will be
lower and will reflect the near commercial costs of the technologies. Fuel
cells use an electrochemical reaction, rather than combustion to produce
Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG), is an
established leader in deploying clean, reliable, on-site energy products.
More than 550 Plug Power fuel cell systems have been delivered to customers
worldwide in commercial, public sector, telecommunications, utility and
uninterruptible power supply markets.
IST Holdings (PTY) Ltd is a South African
company that offers installation and commissioning of equipment, network
planning and design engineering, manufacturing, marketing, submission of
tenders, technical training and a local backup service. The name was an
acronym of Integrators of System Technology, which remains an accurate
overall description of the group’s business.
The International Finance Corporation,
the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes sustainable private
sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce
poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments,
mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients
improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Its 178 member countries
provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.
From its founding in 1956 through FY05,
IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24
billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries.
IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its
own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.
The Global Environment Facility helps
developing countries fund projects and programs that protect the global
environment. Established in 1991, it is the designated financial mechanism
for international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent
organic pollutants. It also supports projects that combat desertification
and protect international waters and the ozone layer. Its activities, funded
by member countries, are implemented largely through the World Bank, UNDP,
and UNEP. IFC acts as a private sector interface for the facility, operating
through the World Bank as a GEF implementing agency. To date, IFC has developed
GEF-eligible projects amounting to $174 million.