* Clean Energy Investments JV set to target African market* Cells may become "very large" demand segment for platinum
* AngloPlat eyes first fuel cell factory in two years' timeBy Jan Harvey
LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - AngloPlatinum said it istargeting the development of a potentially significant sector ofplatinum demand with the creation of a new fuel cell jointventure, Clean Energy Investments.
The affiliate, created in July by AngloPlat, U.S. fuel cellspecialist Altergy Systems and the South African Department forScience and Technology, is aimed at developing new applicationsof the cells, from mobile phone batteries to back-up generators.
It will focus specifically on the sub-Saharan Africanmarket, which has run into significant power issues in recentyears as demand grows faster than generating capacity.
"It is potentially a very large platinum demand segment,"said Anthea Bath, AngloPlat's head of market development andresearch. "We don't see it as a short-term demand growth driver,but over the long term it will have a role to play."
"Long term, it is an important part of our business," shesaid, without providing financial details.
AngloPlatinum, which is majority owned by diversified minerAnglo American, is the world's largest platinum miner, withoutput of 2.452 million ounces in its last full year,representing some 40 percent of global platinum supply.
The white metal is a key catalyst in fuel cells, whichchiefly create electricity through a reaction of hydrogen andoxygen, with water as a byproduct.
According to platinum group metals refiner Johnson Matthey,demand for platinum for use in fuel cells grew last year at atime when overall consumption of the metal was falling, althoughthe overall market segment remained small.
Bath says she hopes Clean Energy will start construction ofa factory to produce fuel cells within the next two to threeyears, as part of its strategy to develop fuel cell technologyfor the southern African market.
Bath said while fuel cells are already in use in many nicheareas, they lacked widespread commercialisation. "Once theystart getting full volume, they are going to become much moreaffordable and then start gaining traction," she said.
She said she hoped to see more mainstream usage of fuelcells over the next decade, in areas from telecommunications andtransportation.
"The African market is the fastest growingtelecommunications market in the world," she said. "So clearlythere is an opportunity."
She added: "A fuel cell is a very environmentally friendlytechnology. Cars are very important -- an ideal eco car will bea fuel cell car."
Fuel cell-powered generators are likely to be particularlyattractive to the sub-Saharan African market, she added, where anumber of industrial and other facilities are far fromconventional power sources.
South Africa in particular has suffered a number of poweroutages in recent years, as its fragile electricityinfrastructure struggles to keep up with rising demand. This hasled more users to buy in back-up generation capacity. (Reporting by Jan Harvey; Editing by Alison Birrane)