By Eric Denhoff--Canada’s top fuel cell companies are selling fuel cells like hot cakes over the past few months, as worldwide interest in hydrogen fuel cells ramps up.
Hydrogenics, the Ontario-based fuel cell and electrolyser manufacturer, was rolling along nicely last year delivering more than 30 fuel cell systems to China for buses and other vehicles, when it announced late in 2015 an order of 2,000 fuel cell systems and infrastructure for Chinese companies. The order—which over 5 years could be worth up to $100 million—followed closely on the heels of a major announcement with partner Alstom to supply fuel cells for France for commuter trains, a project expected to bring Hydrogenics more than $75 million in revenue. In addition, Hydrogenics has been selling electrolyser and fuelling station infrastructure, along with multi-megawatt Power-to-Gas installations, everywhere from Germany to Scotland to Honolulu, capitalizing on the renewed interest in storage from major wind producers and utilities.
Meanwhile, Ballard Power Systems has been on a roll, itself opening new markets in China and making major announcements:
- $12 million deal just announced to power commercial buses in China
- Follow-up order from Nisshinbo for Ballard’s breakthrough catalyst technology
- Fuel cell bus agreement with Kin Long United Automotive in China
- Major fuel cell order from India for Backup Telecom, which may rise to 200 installations
- $6 million deal in China for fuel cell powered trams
- $17 million deal in China for 300 fuel cell buses
So, Canadian fuel cell companies will be powering up to 2,300 fuel cell buses in China alone, along with commuter trams in China and commuter trains in France. Canadian companies are also at the forefront of installing new fuelling stations around the world—Hydrogenics in Scotland, H-TEC of Vancouver in California and Powertech Labs involved in fuelling station installations as well.
Another positive sign has been the willingness of investors to take a hard look, and put up hard cash, into Canadian fuel cells companies. Ballard attracted $5 million from Nisshinbo, Hydrogenics completed a $15 million private placement. In addition, repeat orders for fuel cells for material handling, for Ballard through Plug Power and Hydrogenics though its expanding customer base, are showing that as fuel cell technologies become commercial, there is rapid market expansion and acceptance.
Canada also remains a hotbed of research and development, with Mercedes focused on its high-speed Vancouver fuel cell manufacturing plant, AFCC (Mercedes and Ford) continuing their work in Vancouver and agencies like UBC, SFU, NRC and others continuing work on fuel cells.