Plug Power and GE MicroGen signed a development agreement with Vaillant of Germany for a combination furnace, hot water heater and fuel cell system to provide heat and electricity for the home. The efficiency of this appliance will be twice that of conventional power plants.

Fuel cells typically operate at about 40 per cent efficiency. The fuel cell heating appliance under development improves the overall efficiency to 80+ per cent.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vaillant will obtain fuel cells and gas-processing components from Plug Power and then produce the fuel cell heating appliances for customers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Vaillant will also produce these appliances for GE MicroGen which will then market them.

The appliances are scheduled for testing in European markets by the end of 2001. Sales are scheduled to begin in 2003.