RWE Innogy is to close down its Regenesys regenerative fuel cell project at the Little Barford, UK, site. The prototype energy storage facility had been running into difficulties with the engineering of a large scale version, in particular with electrolyte storage tanks and internal piping, and although the company was confident, given time, of finding solutions it has decided not to invest the tens of millions of pounds required to create a commercial version. 24 of the proposed 120 modules had been installed at the 120 MWh facility, The decision is part of a general pulling back by Innogy into its core businesses of electricity and gas supply, generation, and renewables after a Europe-wide review of its ongoing projects. Little Barford will now be mothballed but RWE will retain the intellectual property rights and keep open the option of re-starting if conditions change. The second Regenesys site, the Columbus, US, storage facility owned by Tennessee Valley Authority, which was waiting on the supply of modules from the UK, will now also be discontinued. TVA is looking at a number of options for the site.
The project has a chequered history. It was opened in 2000 with an expected completion date of 2002. By 2001 Innogy, then an arm of National Power, proposed, on a wave of enthusiasm for alternative energy, to float it under the Regenesys name. National Power's advisers forecast that it would add more than £1 billion to NP's stock value. In the event the flotation never took place, the 2002 date was not met and a series of delays has dogged the project.