July 2013

Welcome to this issue of The Fuel Cell Advantage, where you’ll find the latest on how we are putting fuel cells to work in commercial applications everyday.

In this issue:
• Q&A with Tony Cochrane, Director Product Management on the new ElectraGen™-ME
• Ballard-sponsored webinar highlighting reliability of fuel cell systems in extreme situations
• South African government supports Ballard and Anglo American Platinum deployment
• Ballard's latest corporate video
• Update on Ballard's Engineering Services Program for Volkswagen
• Progress in the Material Handling market
• Recent and upcoming Ballard events

Launch of our New Telecom Backup Power Fuel Cell System
Interview with Tony Cochrane, Director - Product Management

As part of Ballard’s ongoing product improvement program, a new ElectraGen™-ME system for telecom backup power has been released with enhanced product features. These upgrades focus on three main areas - reliability, durability and maintenance and servicing. 

  Why are ElectraGen™ shipments growing so quickly?

Mr. Cochrane:  We are certainly experiencing rapid growth in the telecom backup power market, particularly with the ElectraGen™-ME, our methanol-fuelled product. Of course, when the electric grid goes down, telecom companies do not want their service to subscribers to be disrupted – that becomes a major problem very rapidly. There are really two specific power outage situations that are driving the need for reliable backup power systems. The first are regular power outages that result from unreliable electric grids – these can even be daily outages in some places. The second is concern over potential grid power outages that can result from crisis situations, such as extreme weather, for instance.

Q:  Can you give a few examples?

A:  Certainly. Regular power outages stemming from unreliable grids are commonly found in economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, for example. And indeed, we are shipping considerable product volume to South Africa and Indonesia.

In terms of crisis situations, just a few months ago when Hurricane Sandy roared through the Caribbean, our backup power systems in the Bahamas performed flawlessly – a great proof point regarding the reliability of our products. We are also shipping a large number of systems to NSN in Japan, where concern over potential tsunamis is very real.

  What are the key benefits of fuel cell backup power systems?

A:  Well, Hurricane Sandy provided a strong ‘case study’ of product reliability – and, that is a major advantage in critical applications like wireless service compared to lead-acid batteries or diesel generators. And, our fuel cell systems are capable of providing power for an extended duration. So, with minimal maintenance requirements, these performance advantages are available to telecom customers as an attractive financial alternative to traditional solutions.

Q:  What are the improvements available with your new product release?

A:  Our new ElectraGen™-ME systems really deliver advances in three areas. The first is a further underpinning of system reliability, in terms of both the fuel processor and fuel cell stack. Second is increased overall durability, with added robustness in certain components along with improved corrosion resistance. And, third is simplified maintenance and servicing through firmware enhancements and easier access to some components. We have put more detailed information on our website.


Webinar: Hurricane Sandy and Commercially Tested Fuel Cell Backup Power Solutions

Increasing, demand for ElectraGenTM telecom backup power systems is seen in markets with reliable grids yet vulnerable to extended power outages in crisis situations such as extreme weather conditions.

Ballard recently sponsored a webinar event featuring presentations by two experts on the topic: Kyla Reid, Head of the Disaster Response Programme at GSMA; and Lennox McCartney, President of Precision Power and Air Bahamas.

In her presentation regarding the impact of disaster situations on communication networks, Ms. Reid noted that an estimated 32.4 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2012 alone. She provided specific examples from extreme situations in Japan, Haiti and Chile, among others.

Lennox McCartney then presented a case study based on the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the Bahamas, where fuel cell generators proved 100% reliable in providing backup power to the mobile telecom network when residents needed it most. A total of 17 fuel cell backup power systems provided 700 hours of power over a 7-day period during and after the storm, producing more than 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

The event was hosted by Eric Denhoff, CEO of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and was well attended by participants from telecom service providers, suppliers and public sector organizations. The webinar audio and presentation materials may be accessed at Ballard's website.


South African Government Supports  Ballard and Anglo American Platinum Fuel Cell Systems Deployment

As part of its beneficiation strategy and the drive to improve on the uses of platinum, the South African Government, through its funding institutions, has partnered with Ballard Power Systems and Anglo American Platinum with initial field trials of a new methanol-fuelled ‘Home Generator’ prototype product.

The new methanol-fuelled ‘Home Generator’ prototype product is designed for use in off-grid residential applications. The product encompasses a complete fuel cell system, including fuel cell stack, methanol fuel processor and other components needed to meet the market requirements of rural electrification within a local mini-grid. The Home Generator product is being developed as a means of addressing the many African households in rural communities that are currently unable to economically access the grid as a result of distance or terrain.

Work to date has included a market feasibility study, testing of a proof-of-concept system based on existing technology and initial work on a prototype system. Systems deployed in initial field trials during 2014 will provide valuable data to support further development of the prototype systems. Upon successful completion of the product development phase, plans are to proceed to a pilot test of more than two hundred units in villages across rural South Africa in 2015.

The low-cost fuel reformer being developed for the Home Generator will also represent an important evolutionary step for the ElectraGenTM-ME methanol fuel cell products for Telecom Backup Power applications.

Watch Ballard's Latest Corporate Video

Ballard’s brief new video showcases the key strengths of our company, including unsurpassed skill sets in fuel cell science, engineering and manufacturing, as well as world-class test and production facilities. Watch this video to learn how Ballard is putting fuel cells to work in unique clean energy solutions today.

Visit Ballard's YouTube Channel where Mandarin and Japanese translations of the video are also available.

Ballard Engineering Services Program for Volkswagen Progressing Rapidly

Work at Ballard is progressing rapidly against a major Engineering Services contract with Volkswagen AG to advance the automaker’s fuel cell automotive research program. Teams are pursuing parallel goals to support the current fleet of Volkswagen HyMotion demonstration cars, as well as designing and manufacturing next generation fuel cell technology.

“A collaborative working relationship has quickly developed between the Ballard and Volkswagen teams, permitting rapid progress in support of key program deliverables for fuel cell stack development,” said Sabina Russell, Director of Product Engineering at Ballard. “In the current program phase, requirements are being defined to guide the development of fuel cells for use in next generation Volkswagen demonstration vehicles.”

Ballard engineers are leading critical areas of fuel cell product design – including the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), plate and stack components – along with testing and system integration work. Ballard expects to add additional resources in the coming year, as needed for the program. Teams will be collocated in Canada and Germany to further enhance the partnership.

Over its contract life, the Volkswagen program’s revenue run rate is expected to be approximately $4-to-5 million per quarter. The 4-year contract has an estimated value of C$60-to-100 million and includes an option for a 2-year extension.

Progress in the Fuel Cell Material Handling Market

BMW Manufacturing Expands Use of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Forklift Fleet

BMW Manufacturing has successfully expanded the company's hydrogen fuel-cell material handling equipment across its 4.0 million square foot production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 2010, BMW completed the installation of a hydrogen storage and distribution area near the plant's Energy Center to power about 100 pieces of fuel cell material handling equipment supplied by Plug Power. Since that time, the company has more than doubled its hydrogen-fuel cell fleet to approximately 230 units to service the entire plant's production and logistics functions. These forklift trucks contain GenDriveTM systems,manufactured by Plug Power and utilizing Ballard fuel cell stacks as the primary power source. Watch this video to see footage of the forklifts in action.

Plug Power Extends GenDriveTM Product Line

Plug Power recently announced an extention to its product line with the introduction of the GenDriveTM 1900, the industry's highest capacity fuel cell system for material handling applications.

The GenDriveTM 1900 is designed as a drop-in replacement for lead-acid batteries on six-ton capacity, four-wheel, class-one counterbalanced forklift trucks. Six-ton forklift trucks are among the most popular large-capacity forklift trucks in use. With this new offering in its product line, Plug Power now provides a complete solution that spans all class-one forklift trucks, as well as class-two and three trucks. This important extension allows customers to fully convert to a hydrogen powered forklift fleet. The new GenDriveTM 1900 will start customer trials in the third quarter of 2013.

Plug Power is the leading hydrogen fuel cell supplier for material handling operations in North America, holding 85 percent market share. And Ballard Power Systems is the exclusive supplier of fuel cell stacks for Plug Power’s full suite of GenDriveTM power units.

Ballard Events


Hydrogen & Fuel Cells 2013

June 16-19, 2013

The event drew 800 delegates from more than 50 countries, including Canada, Germany, the U.S., Japan, Korea and China to discuss key issues and initatives with the hydrogen and fuel cell sector.

Read more about Ballard's participation...

CommunicAsia 2013

June 18-21, 2013

Attendees and exhibitors at this year's CommunicAsia event included a wide range of Asia's wireless telecom players, many with interet in Ballard's ElectraGenTM fuel cell telecom backup power systems.

Read more about Ballard's participation...


WHTC 2013
September 25-28, 2013

Ballard will exhibit with its partner Azure Hydrogen Corporation at the upcoming 5th World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in Shanghai, China.



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