Social enterprise invests £1m in fuel cell project

Jon Cape, head of iPower. Picture: Contributed
Jon Cape, head of iPower. Picture: Contributed
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A SOCIAL enterprise that makes fuel cells small enough to fit in a home has become the first investment for Scotland’s Social Growth Fund after securing £1 million.

Low carbon developer iPower, which is based in Bridge of Allan, plans to roll out its micro combined heat and power (mCHP) fuel cells to the likes of schools, universities, social housing and care homes.

It wants to install the technology for free, with site owners only paying for the fuel they use and an annual service payment.

Its free BlueGen model, which is the size of a washing machine and uses mains gas to make electricity and heat through an emissions-free chemical reaction, has already been piloted at Edinburgh Napier University.

It is the first investment to be made from the £16m Social Growth Fund which opened for applications in May.

Managed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), the fund brings together £8m from the Scottish Government and £8m from Big Society Capital, the independent financial institution set up to develop and share a sustainable social investment market in the UK.

Since launching the fund, SIS has received more than 70 applications for investment.

Jon Cape, director of iPower, said fuel cell technology is already being widely used in Japan.

“We aim to play a leading role in bringing this scale of deployment to Scotland and the UK in coming years, making substantial cuts to energy bills and carbon emissions,” he said.

Around 70 sites will be supported in the first phase, funded by SIS, and iPower is looking to extend this to a further 350 sites in the coming year.