By 2014, a British Columbia (B.C.) firm says it will be responsible for 80 per cent of public transit bus fuel cells used in Europe.
Headquartered in Burnaby, B.C., Ballard Power Systems (Ballard) expects to power about 40 out of Europe’s 50 fuel cell buses as the result of new partnerships, such as one with Begium-based Van Hool, Europe’s fourth-largest bus manufacturer.
Ballard’s FCvelocity fuel cell module is a zero-emission technology. Its latest 75 and 150-kilowatt FCvelocity-HD6 modules provide power while emitting only water and heat, the company says.
“Our fuel cell power module has proven to be highly reliable in a large number of buses in Europe and elsewhere,” said Dr. Christopher Guzy, chief technology officer at Ballard, in a May 14, 2013 statement to media. “And, since fuel cells are a zero-emission solution, this has made the Ballard module an increasingly popular choice of transit authorities as an alternative power technology.”
Ballard’s new deal with Van Hool will see its fuel cell technology operating in Norway, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Scotland in 2014. The Aberdeen, Scotland fleet of 10 buses will be the second-largest fuel cell fleet in the world behind the 20-bus fleet running in Whistler, B.C. since 2010.
Ballard says it’s working with other bus manufacturers to integrate its fuel cell modules into buses operating in London, Amsterdam and Cologne, Germany.
Fuel cell hybrid buses in Europe have logged more than three million kilometres in transit service since 2003, Ballard says.
Ballard is currently working to further commercialize its FCvelocity-HD power modules — with funding support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) — through improvements in durability and reliability, as well as reduced costs.
To highlight the usefulness of fuel cell technology, Ballard representatives referred to a May 2013 web presentation on the importance of fuel cells in extreme weather situations and natural disasters. Lennox McCartney, president of Precision Power and Air Bahamas, presented a case study based on the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the Bahamas, where fuel cell generators provided backup power to the mobile telecom networks when residents needed it most. A total of 17 fuel cell backup power systems provided 700 hours of power over a seven-day period during and after the storm, producing more than 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity, Ballard says.
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