Shares in alkaline fuel cell company AFC Energy (LSE: AFC) were given a boost today when it announced the completion of its final milestone. This was to deliver gross electrical output of over 200 kilowatts from its KORE fuel cell power plant in Stade.

The news has been eagerly awaited by the company’s investors following recent delays, but it represents the first time that all three tiers of the KORE fuel cell system have operated in parallel with each other to successfully dispatch power into the German power grid. And with significant operational data having been recorded, AFC can now enhance the system yet further. In addition, the fact that the fuel cells have exceeded the name plate capacity of the individual 10kW cartridges is positive news for the long term.

Although AFC remains a relatively high risk play owing to its size, it now has the world’s largest operating alkaline fuel cell system. With the world moving towards cleaner energy production, it has significant long-term capital gain prospects.

Risks and rewards

Also releasing news today is oil and gas play BowLeven (LSE: BLVN). It has decided to terminate talks to acquire a 25% stake in the Kiliwani North licence and a 50% interest in the Ruvuma contract following due diligence. While this is disappointing, with a low oil price apparently set to remain in place there may be other opportunities for BowLeven to strengthen its long-term profit outlook.

Of course, the company’s shares have been hurt by a lower price for black gold, with them being down 32% in the last year. And with the company’s losses widening in its most recent results mainly due to major asset impairments, its near-term future appears to be somewhat challenging. However, with BowLeven having a strong balance sheet with no debt, it continues to have appeal as a smaller exploration play. This, plus the potential for positive news flow from its drilling programme, mean that it could be of interest to less risk-averse investors.

Appealing potential

However, for most investors the risk/reward ratio of BP (LSE: BP) still holds greater appeal. That’s because it offers the potential for significant capital gains as well as an above-average level of income.  

For example, BP trades on a price-to-book value (P/B) ratio of 0.9 and while there’s the prospect of asset writedowns due to the low oil price, BP continues to have a very high quality asset base that’s well-diversified and cheap to buy for new investors. Furthermore, the company’s shares currently yield 7%. Even though dividends could be cut substantially in the coming years, it seems likely that BP will remain a solid income stock due to it stating that shareholder payouts will remain a priority in the medium term.

Furthermore, with BP set to move on from the huge payouts for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there appears to be less reason for negative investor sentiment. This could have a positive impact on its share price over the course of the next few years.

Of course, finding the best stocks at the lowest prices can be challenging when work and other commitments get in the way.

That's why the analysts at The Motley Fool have written a free and without obligation guide called 10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market.

It's a step-by-step guide that could make a real difference to your financial future and allow you to retire early, pay off your mortgage, or even build a seven-figure portfolio.

Click here to get your free and without obligation copy - it's well-worth a read!

Peter Stephens owns shares of AFC Energy and BP. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.