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New Analyst View: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells & the Third Industrial Revolution

June 20, 2012
New Analyst View: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells & the Third Industrial Revolution

Source: Fuel Cell Today

At the beginning of the month I attended the 19th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Toronto, Canada. There, world-famous American economist and EC political advisor Jeremy Rifkin gave an engaging plenary explaining how fuel cell and hydrogen technologies play a critical role in the future socio-economic paradigm, The Third Industrial Revolution as Rifkin’s theory calls it. His theory states that economic transformations occur when new energy systems and communication technologies converge in industrial revolutions: the first was steam power and the print industry, the second centralised electricity and electrical communication, the third as theorised by Rifkin is the convergence of renewable energies and the internet.

At the beginning of the month I attended the 19th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Toronto, Canada. There, world-famous American economist and EC political advisor Jeremy Rifkin gave an engaging plenary explaining how fuel cell and hydrogen technologies play a critical role in the future socio-economic paradigm, The Third Industrial Revolution as Rifkin’s theory calls it. His theory states that economic transformations occur when new energy systems and communication technologies converge in industrial revolutions: the first was steam power and the print industry, the second centralised electricity and electrical communication, the third as theorised by Rifkin is the convergence of renewable energies and the internet. In his own words:

The great economic revolutions occur when new energy regimes emerge and new energy regimes make possible the bringing together of larger numbers of people so that we can integrate their skills, differentiate them, and put them into larger economic units. But new energy regimes are complex so they require new communication revolutions agile enough to manage [them]. If we look through history we see that it’s when communication revolutions converge with and manage new energy revolutions – those are the pivotal points in history that change the economic paradigm, the social framework and even consciousness.

Rifkin’s Third Industrial Revolution is supported by five pillars; alone they are just components but when combined their synergies provide a viable platform for the change. They are:

1. Shifting to renewable energy

Our entire modern civilisation is built around fossil fuels: we use them for producing energy and petrochemicals are in the majority of products we consume; thus increases in oil prices negatively impact global purchasing power and our economy suffers, as we have experienced recently. Global peak oil production was reached in 2006 and the IEA suggests that it would cost $8 trillion over the next twenty years to extract our remaining fossil reserves; but this is not, and can never be, a long-term solution. Investing in renewables utilises inexhaustible natural resources and is the only long-term solution.


2. Using buildings as power plants

How do we collect energies that are distributed? Rifkin proposes that we use our expansive buildings infrastructure; the EU has 191 million buildings alone. New buildings would be zero emission, positive power. Retrofitting with ever-cheapening renewable harvesting technologies would spur millions of jobs and jumpstart the economy over the forty year period required for the conversion of all European buildings, Rifkin predicted. Cost-down is likely to follow the same twenty-five year transformation the computer industry saw: in the 1970s there were only a few mainframe computers of inordinate cost, by the turn of the millennium computers were affordable for most families and a further ten years on and computing components are relatively cheap commodities that have proliferated everywhere. This also triggers a sea-change in the way power works: consumers would produce their own power and feed excess to the grid; utilities would transform from power providers to power managers, helping consumers and SMEs manage their energy flows.


3. Deploying storage

The intermittency of renewables dictates a need for storage. Rifkin is not technology-biased in this arena but stated that hydrogen is an obvious choice and its modularity, scalability and movability are advantageous. Hydrogen can be distributed and transferred laterally and cross-continentally; fuel cells and electrolysers will play a huge role in balancing the intricacies of the new energy paradigm. The EU has confirmed its belief in hydrogen and fuel cells through framework funding and the creation of the FCH JU. “Unless we can bring hydrogen in to store and manage the flows across regions we can’t make this work.”


4. Using the internet to transform power grids

Commonly dubbed the smart grid, Rifkin prefers to think of an energy internet: a nervous system for the emerging energy–communication convergence via the conversion of our existing grid infrastructure. In his analogy Rifkin compared it to the existing internet: millions of buildings would each produce a little bit of electricity, storing it in hydrogen as we would store media in digital, selling surplus back to the grid as we would share things online.


5. Electrifying personal transportation

Battery electric vehicles are already here and fuel cell electric vehicles are less than three years away. Homeowners will be able to use their surplus electricity to charge their BEV or after electrolysis, use it in hydrogen form to fuel their FCEV.


Critically, Rifkin emphasises that none of these components work alone; the transition must see all of these pillars emerge together. The change will not be centralised, it will emerge laterally. Lateral thinking has risen in unison with the internet, which is inherently distributed and laterally organised; economics, media, and many other aspects of life are moving to a lateral operation and now energy must follow. The EU, Korea and others have adopted the Third Industrial Revolution model, and there is an opportunity for less developed countries where fossil culture is not so engrained to leapfrog ahead in this transition. The change is not easy, it is not instant, but it is necessary if we are to continue living in the empowering and enjoyable way we do beyond this century.

Download this publication here


Jonathan Wing Market Analyst


WHEC2012 19th World Hydrogen Energy Conference

June 12, 2012
WHEC2012 19th World Hydrogen Energy Conference The countdown to the 19th WHEC 2012 is over as the conference officially got underway today at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto. We caught up with Eric Denhoff, President and CEO of CHFCA, who told us he was expecting over 1,100 delegates during the week and the exhibition area is sold out.


Monday June, 4th 2012

The welcome plenary began in front of a packed audience with a traditional cleansing ceremony to bless the conference and ensure successful outcomes for all delegates. With standing room only at the back and sides of the main conference hall, the Honorable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology,  then went on to highlight the continued attention of the Canadian government on job creation and growth, even during the difficult economic times of recent years.

Eric Denhoff (right in the above photo) from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association then escorted Minister Goodyear (left) on a brief tour of the WHEC2012 exhibition hall stopping by the Canadian companies exhibiting here. Ballard, Greenlight Innovation, Hydrogenics and the CHFCA were all given the chance to give their elevator speeches, having only minutes before the minister was required to leave on official business.

Ballard mentioned its recent order of 50 backup power units destined for the Chinese telecoms industry – an order which it hopes will be the first of many. China has the world’s largest and fastest growing telecommunications networks in the world, and backup power will form a critical component of this growth.

Daryl Wilson from Hydrogenics discussed his company’s products and mentioned its tie-up with Enbridge which is developing gas to grid infrastructure where low cost off-peak electricity will be used to electrolyse water with the hydrogen being injected into the gas network offering long-term electricity storage in chemical form. More information was shared on this in the second media session of the day, described below.

Finally the minister met representatives from CHFCA, and spoke to Ross Bailey and Greig Walsh from Greenlight Innovation before briefly stopping by a few more stands before he left.

The second media session of the day focussed on hydrogen as an energy storage medium, specifically when injected into existing natural gas infrastructure. Daryl Wilson (left in picture below) from Hydrogenics and David Teichroeb (seated on right in picture below) from Enbridge were introducing their joint Canadian project which plans to validate and test the injection of hydrogen into the natural gas grid. Initially starting at a scale of less than a megawatt, with positive results future plants could be on the scale of 10-15 MW. These plants offer a host of benefits: they are flexible on location, not being subject to the geographical constraints of alternatives, such as compressed air energy storage or pumped hydro plants; the electrolysers can smooth out the intermittancy of renewables like wind and solar, this can maximise utilisation of renewable assets and negate the requirement for expensive fossil-fuelled spinning reserve plants; the electrolysers can also act as demand-side management, being easily controlled to maintain grid balance; these systems are also modular and can grow in line with electricity storage needs, an important consideration as this new application finds its feet.

The use of hydrogen in this context, to convert back to electricity, is just one of the options available and in fact the third representative on the panel, Oliver Weinmann (seated centre) from Vattenfall explained more about a project his company is involved with in Germany where the hydrogen is also sold as a transport fuel. In Europe, there is also the potential to sell the mixed natural gas and hydrogen directly to customers for use in home heating and cooking. This itself would also be nothing new, with the coal gas prevalent in the USA and Europe in the early 1900′s being a mixture of hydrogen (up ot 40%), methane and carbon monoxide.

Tuesday 5th June


Tuesday saw the opening of the WHEC2012 Ride & Drive which is taking place today and Wednesday between 10am and 4pm at Yonge-Dundas Square. Conference participants and the public can visit the square (or get a lift from the valet area of the Sheraton Centre), and if you present a valid driving licence can take one of five different fuel cell electric vehicles for a spin on the roads of Toronto!

Also, for the first time as far as we are aware, it is possible to drive a fuel cell materials handling vehicle. Plug Power have brought along a Class-3 material hanlding truck, the type which is used to pull trailers in warehouses, and it too is at the square. Jonny took the opportunity to diversify his skillset and see for himself how the unit handles and how responsive the fuel cell drivetrain is.

Tuesday also saw a lunchtime speech from Jeremy Rifkin, noted economist and author, who spoke about how hydrogen and fuel cells are pivotal to the success of our species as we enter a new industrial age. One he dubs the third industrial age and referred to in his book: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy and the World as an age where we must decarbonise our energy to prevent the catastrophic effects of increased carbon emissions. The principle is predicated on five pillars: the first is moving to renewables, second is to use the existing building stock as a source of energy, through the installation of wind and solar harvesting technologies, the third pillar (and one Rifkin thinks is most important) is storage of electricity; Rifkin sees hydrogen as the solution here. Fourth is the move to an energy internet, where distribution and cross-border sharing of electricity will be key and finally, the fifth pillar is transport and decarbonising the fuels we use. Rifkin also held a book signing and sat in on a panel discussion at the Ballard AGM which followed his lunchtime speech.

Tuesday ended with the WHEC2012 Gala Reception held at the Roy Thomson Hall, home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, where the International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE) awards were presented. The award winners were:

Peter Hoffman was awarded the title of honorary fellow of the IAHE.

The IAHE Jules Verne award was presented to two winners, Alexander (Sandy) K. Stuart  and to Tom Sullivan for both their contributions to the electrolyser industry through their respective companies.

The IAHE Rudolf A.Erren award was presented to Ravinder Kumar Malhotra (from IOC).

The IAHE Sir William Grove award was presented to four recipients, Hydrogenics, FCCJ, Dieter Zetsche and SAIC (group).

Congratulations to all the winners!


Ballard on the Cusp of Profitability

June 11, 2012
Ballard on the Cusp of Profitability

For years, Ballard sold investors on the promise of its technology, while burning through hundreds of millions of their cash. Profits were always just around the corner – except they never were.

When John Sheridan arrived at the company’s Burnaby, B.C., headquarters in late 2006, it took the new president and CEO little time at all to divine the future. The company was in huge trouble, or to put it in his words, “facing a train wreck” of epic proportions. Bankruptcy was almost a certainty unless changes were made.

Six years later, Ballard is on the cusp of profitability, buoyed in large part by its success in powering – wait for it – forklifts.

Sometimes the path to enlightenment can be a humbling.

Forklifts aren’t the futuristic automobiles Ballard had hoped to build its brand around, but they were something in which the company could install a small fuel-cell power pack and make the business case that it was more economically viable than existing lead acid batteries.

In other words, forklifts offered the opportunity for an immediate commercial application of Ballard’s technology, as opposed to waiting for the day it could work in cars – which likely is still years away. But now that’s someone else’s worry. Canada’s fallen tech-bubble star has moved on and is focused on clawing its way back to market respectability the old fashion way – by earning it.

The company abandoned its car dreams in 2007 when it sold its fuel-cell assets – including intellectual property – to automotive giants Ford and Daimler, which owned a 32-per-cent stake in the company. Ballard was simply too small a company to carry the significant research and development costs that will continue to pile up before such a day arrives.

“My pitch to them [Ford, Daimler] was this: Either we find a negotiated outcome here or we’re going to have to stop the automotive work and all this will come to a screeching halt,” Mr. Sheridan recalled in a recent interview. “I said you guys will have to start from scratch, and this is going to be a disaster. Years and years and years of progress working together on automotive fuel-cell technology are going to be gone.”

In other words, this was no minor revectoring of the company’s plans. This was: We’ve got a major problem and either you guys buy our fuel-cell assets or you’re starting over. Left with that choice, the car giants agreed to a deal that was worth about $100-million to Ballard, which could still use its fuel-cell technology for non-automotive applications. This allowed the company to recast its future.

That’s the old news. The story today is that the quiet turnaround of this once high-tech supernova is almost complete.

Mr. Sheridan and his team have done it by focusing on the development of fuel-cell systems for use in forklifts, buses and generators. Again, Batmobile-looking cars powered by fuel cells it is not. But money-making it potentially is, which is most important for Ballard’s long-suffering shareholders.

The company’s products are now being sold around the world, including Europe, South America and India. Last week, it announced a trial plan for its fuel-cell power systems in the China Mobile telecom network. If, as expected, it leads to commercial deployment in China Mobile’s network, it would be a huge gain for Ballard.

Walter Nasdeo, an analyst with Ardour Capital Investments in New York, is forecasting Ballard’s transformation to profitability by the fourth quarter of 2013. If it happens, it will likely make Ballard the first profitable, publicly traded fuel-cell company in the world.

“They are very close,” Mr. Nasdeo said.

Still, the company is dogged by doubters and will be until its revenue goals are finally achieved. Mr. Sheridan says people are right to be skeptical.

“This is a company that promised the world and didn’t deliver,” he said. “It’s a show-me story and people will believe [success] when they actually see it. That’s fine with us. Because I think we’ll soon have a pretty terrific story to tell.”


Is the fuel-cell industry really near a tipping point?

June 11, 2012
Is the fuel-cell industry really near a tipping point?

There was a shareholder who stood up at Ballard Power’s annual meeting this week to share her experience with the company’s stock price. It pretty much summed up the frustration shared by most investors in the fuel-cell industry.

This investor has owned Ballard shares for most of 20 years. She sold in early 2000 when the stock hit $140 a share and did quite well. That was when the hype around fuel-cell powered cars was approaching its fever pitch.

Later that year she bought back into the company at about $120 a share, believing the stock was poised for another run. Bad move. The drop continued, to the point where today shares are struggling to stay above $1.

What’s a CEO to say? Ballard chief John Sheridan, who holds 500,000 or so shares himself, said he understood and felt the pain. But he emphasized, as he has in the past, that the market continues to undervalue fuel-cell companies generally and Ballard specifically.

There’s no question the industry has had a history of over-promising and under-delivering, and it continues to pay dearly for miscalculations. German automaker Daimler AG predicted a decade ago that 100,000 fuel-cell car engines would be produced annually by 2005.

Even less ambitious targets—but no less unrealistic—have been missed. Ballard told Time magazine in 1999 that fuel-cell vehicles would be economical by 2010. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted in 2001 that sales of the vehicles would reach one million a year by 2010.

Of course, we know how that turned out. Around mid-2000 the government and auto industry began shifting attention to battery-powered vehicles. The media lost interest, tired of reporting on yet another pilot project or hydrogen-powered bus sale.

Big investors, more importantly, lost their appetite for the technology. Too much had been spent, and it was taking far too long for the promised hydrogen economy to emerge. Time to move on.

Brian Piccioni, a technology analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said governments are in no mood these days to spend, let alone engage in another wave of support for fuel cell projects. And raising capital from the private sector remains a huge challenge.

Despite this tough environment, there was a true sense at Ballard’s annual meeting that the industry is nearing a tipping point.

No, I’m not suggesting that fuel-cell cars will soon be in a showroom near you. That’s still a long-term dream given existing infrastructure challenges. But fuel cells are seriously beginning to gain traction in certain sectors and for specific applications.

Volumes are building to impressive levels, costs are coming down, and some companies – Ballard among them – are flirting with profitability.

Since 2009 Ballard’s average product cost has fallen by 60 per cent. Revenue is expected to surpass $100 million in fiscal 2012, more than double 2009 results. As a result, the company is projecting it will have positive cash flow in the second half of 2012.

It also expects to hit the breakeven mark for “adjusted” earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which is a sneaky way of measuring operating performance that excludes certain items. It does, however, hint at true profitability within reach.

“It’s a true milestone in our history and our industry as well,” Tony Guglielmin, chief financial officer of Ballard, told shareholders.

In fact, there’s a bit of a race to profitability going on in the industry, with companies such as FuelCell Energy and ClearEdge demonstrating that they’re closing in on that goal.

More telecommunications firms are seeing the benefits of fuel cells for providing clean back-up power. More municipalities are adding fuel cell-powered buses to their fleets, and more warehouses are ditching lead-acid batteries in favour of fuel-cell forklifts. It’s not a tsunami, mind you, but it’s also not a trickle anymore.

This isn’t just because it’s the “greener” option. Products are gaining traction because, in certain applications and geographies, they are cost-competitive and simply better.

Another growth area is the use of fuel cells for distributed power generation, either to more efficiently use natural gas or biogas to produce electricity, or to use surplus or off-peak renewable energy to make and store the hydrogen that powers fuel cells.

As more renewable energy sources are added to the power mix of grids, there will increasingly be a need to store and later retrieve that energy on a large scale. Grid stability will come to depend on it.

For that use, the hydrogen and fuel cell combo might have been too expensive five years ago, but today it fits the bill in many jurisdictions and for many companies. The outlook will only get better.

So is Ballard under-valued? Judging by the direction of its costs, sales and industry trends, there’s a good argument that it is.

We may not see the hydrogen economy that gave shareholders $140 a share 12 years ago, but the fuel-cell market is poised for growth and Ballard – after a long and painful transition – is finally in a good place.

Tyler Hamilton, author of Mad Like Tesla, writes weekly about green energy and clean technologies.


Antares DLR-H2

May 18, 2012
Antares DLR-H2

The research aircraft Antares DLR H2 is the world’s first bootable, airplane pilot with fuel cell propulsion. It is based substantially on the last few years built boat Antares 20E. In two additional external load containers will be the fuel cell system and the hydrogen tanks under the wings for increased appropriate. In further steps could the performance data of the plane with up to four external load containers and more advanced fuel cells still significantly increased.

Developed and built the high-flying testbed project partners from Long Aviation in Zweibruecken. As the primary source of energy for propulsion is one of the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics specially provided fuel cell system. This system is nearly identical to that used in aircraft fuel supply system for board and provides the electrical energy for the Long Aviation developed powertrain, from the power electronics, motor and propeller exists. The use of a highly efficient fuel cell (efficiency up to 52% electrically) with the hydrogen fuel makes driving this airplane CO2 released. The waste product is clean water.

It is expected that the pairing of the fuel cell with a very quiet and powerful electric propulsion small plane in comparison with piston-driven engines set new standards in the fitness level requires. The project impresses by bringing together interdisciplinary activities. To a very economical flight to allow the entire aircraft is technically optimized flow. The goal is turbulent air currents in all areas to be avoided.

Long Aviation, the company is making a long-standing experience with. The integration of the experimental vessel was both aerodynamically aeroelastic both a challenge by the solid experience of the Institute for Aeroelasticity of the German Aerospace Center, an optimal placement of the containers can be achieved. This is the dynamics of the airplane is not affected. The additional air resistance on the Antares 20E model series are less than 15% and with a potential additional burden of more than 200kg.

When the coupling of the fuel cell powertrain system with the new routes were also begun. The fuel cell system was designed so that it directly with the engine control unit can be connected. The components and saves costs and increases efficiency. Therefore, both the Institute for vehicle concepts of the DLR as well as the Bern University of Applied Sciences Biel and the Long Aviation an important contribution. A subsequent hybridization with a lithium-polymer battery will power the aircraft continue to improve. The result is a high-tech makers of a variety of architectures of fuel cell systems can absorb. These can then be luftfahrtrelevanten conditions such as pressure, temperature, acceleration and vibration tested.

For the first flight at the end of this year, a fuel cell system in cooperation with the firm BASF Fuel Cell GmbH (electrolyte + electrodes) and Serenergy A / S (Stack Subsystem) for the airline upgraded. That was at the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics alongside overall system architecture design and build a whole range of temperature and pressure measurements.

With a specially designed control architecture Algorithm shows this is a very good weight / performance ratio, an important criterion for the airline. Upon completion of the first tests, which are aimed at a maximum altitude and thus a minimal negative pressure to reach the fuel cell system developed for maximum efficiency in converting fuel energy into electrical energy to guarantee. Now the entire fuel cell system used and the hydrogen tank weigh about 100 kilograms. Thus, only half of the additional burden exploited. This offers a high potential for the aircraft for possible flights record (height, width, etc.) compartment.

To make a comparison to be able to stand further fuel cell systems and architectures prepared to your airworthiness to be investigated.

20m/65 span, 6p.d
Wing area 12.6 m2/135ft2
The main body length of 7.4 m/24, 3f
POD length 2,87 m / 9.43 ft
POD diameter of 0.6 m / 1.97 ft
Curb weight around 460kg/1014 lb
Weight around 60kg fuel cell system
BZ operating system in flight <-45 ° C to 40 ° C
Maximum weight of 750kg DLR H2 (> 900kg in 4 POD version)
Range> 750km (> 2000km in 4 POD version)
Max fuel cell power system around 25kW (up to 45kW in 4 POD version)
Continuous power fuel cell system> 20kW
Max attainable height>> 3000m />> 10000ft
Max climb speed (560kg)> 2.5 m / s (with 25kW)

DC / DC Brushless
Maximum power> 42 kW
Rated 1500 1/min
Maximum speed 1,700 1/min
Max torque 216 Nm
Total Efficiency 90%


Beyond the Fuel Cell Bubble

May 17, 2012
Beyond the Fuel Cell Bubble

Living in the United States, it can be easy to think that there is little happening with fuel cells.  For the transportation sector, all of the momentum in the U.S. is on the battery electric vehicle side – with billions in private and public money being invested in the cars, the batteries, and the charging systems.  Fuel cell cars have to a large degree dropped off the public radar in the States.  And for some reason this sense that fuel cell cars are over has bled over into other fuel cell markets that are unrelated to passenger cars.

There is in fact a lot happening with fuel cells, especially in the European Union, Japan, and South Korea.  So it is useful to get outside the bubble one lives in and find out what else is happening.  That’s one of the benefits of the annual World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC), one of the few annual hydrogen industry events specifically designed to offer a global perspective.

This year’s WHEC is being held in Toronto, Canada from June 3rd through the 7th.  Because the event is in Canada, Canadian firms are naturally being highlighted, with fuel cell companies Ballard and Hydrogenics especially prominent.  But this event is about exploring the range of work on fuel cells and hydrogen around the world.  The speaker line-up includes representatives from well over 30 countries.

There is a particularly strong German presence, reflecting the leadership role that Germany has taken in promoting fuel cell cars, buses, and stationary power.  The German National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) has a featured spot and hopefully will give an update on its efforts to support the commercialization of fuel cell technologies.  This program has been allotted $680 million in public funding, matched by a minimum of 50% industry cost share.  The program is explicitly focused on market preparation.  Daimler and Linde are also prominently featured, and will probably talk about their partnership to build 20 public hydrogen filling stations in Germany.

Indeed, the automotive outlook panels overall should prove interesting.  Automakers are about two years out from their target date for commercial vehicles, which means they are focused on bringing down costs for that target.  I am hoping to get some more public signals from them on what to expect.

Another interesting aspect of this show will be the reports from representatives of emerging economies.  South Africa has several speakers on the agenda, which is unsurprising considering that South Africa is the largest producer of platinum.  Nevertheless, fuel cell activity there has been slow to develop.  India and Brazil are also to be highlighted.  The R&D Centre for the Indian Oil Corporation will talk about the potential for fuel cells to provide backup power for the booming telecom market.  Brazil is exploring fuel cell buses, an obvious fit given the size of its bus manufacturing industry. The WHEC agenda highlights the range of activities around the world on fuel cells and hydrogen – providing a useful corrective to our sometimes insular view from the U.S.


May 17th, 2012 – Webinar

May 14, 2012
May 17th, 2012 – Webinar

An informative discussion of the commercialization path for fuel cell buses, learning from the diesel hybrid experience. The webinar is being hosted by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) on behalf of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) National Fuel Cell Bus Program and is sponsored by Ballard Power Systems Inc. Read more….


US Energy Secretary Chu is Positive on Benefits of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

May 14, 2012
US Energy Secretary Chu is Positive on Benefits of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Secretary Chu, addressing the Hydrogen and Fuel cell Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC) Hydrogen Production Expert Panel Subcommittee on May 10, 2012, acknowledged the benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells. He now sees that hydrogen has a role to play in storing electricity which may enable greater penetration of intermittent renewables such as wind and solar. He acknowledges that the newly discovered shale gas reserves provide a good source of relatively low-cost hydrogen in the near term. After meeting with the major automobile companies, Dr. Chu now believes that the car companies are sincerely developing FCEVs as the next generation vehicle, and are not developing FCEVs as “green-washing” to demonstrate their commitment to low-carbon transportation. He acknowledged that FCEVs can travel 300 miles today without further breakthroughs in technology, and can be refueled in minutes instead of hours.


Fuel Cell Buses Becoming One Popular Ride

May 08, 2012
Fuel Cell Buses Becoming One Popular Ride
    For years, fuel cell buses have been silently running in transit fleets of more than 20 cities around the world, reducing emissions while providing reliable service to passengers.  There are more than 25 fuel cell buses in service or on order around the United States alone, in 11 states.  Recent major purchases and significant milestones are helping to speed fuel cell buses into the spotlight and onto the roadway.  Fuel cell buses offer greater fuel efficiency than diesel buses, with zero tailpipe emissions.  Recent developments include:

  • UTC Power's PureMotion®
    System Model 120 fuel cell powerplant for hybrid-electric transit buses
    surpassed 10,000 operating hours in real-world
    service with its original cell stacks and no cell replacements.  The
    fuel cell system is aboard an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District
    (AC Transit) bus operating in the Greater Oakland, California,

  • In Canada, the 20-bus
    fleet operated by BC Transit powered by Ballard Power Systems’ fuel cell
    modules recently surpassed 1 million miles (1.6-million kilometers)
    in two years.

  • Ballard Power Systems
    also received several major orders to supply its FCvelocity™ HD6 fuel cell
    engines to transit fleets, including 25 buses for Sao Paulo, Braziland 21 buses in
    various European cities.  Both orders are
    planned to be delivered in 2012.  Ballard also received an order for
    three fuel cell systems to power hybrid fuel cell buses in London, England.  The three buses
    will join five existing fuel cell buses for revenue service in Transport
    for London’s (TfL) fleet.

  • Hamburger Hochbahn AG has acquired
    four Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid buses through the German "NaBuZ
    demo" project that promotes sustainable bus systems.  Three more
    buses will be delivered to Hamburg later this year.

  • “Buy America”-compliant fuel cell bus was
    delivered by Ballard and partners to SunLine Transit Agency.  SunLine will also receive two more
    fuel cell hybrid buses, funded under the Federal Transit Administration’s
    (FTA) “Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction
    (TIGGER)” program.

  • The FTA National Fuel Cell Bus Program awarded
    the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) $6.4 million for
    six projects and CALSTART $10 million for two projects, including fuel
    cell buses for Pasadena, California;  Chicago, Illinois;
    Austin, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Connecticut Transit
    (CTTransit) was awarded $5,702,298 to install a stationary fuel cell at
    its New Haven Division Bus Maintenance Facility
    The grant was awarded through the FTA’s TIGGER program.  CTTransit
    now has five fuel cell buses in its fleet, with one in operation since

  • Toyota Motor Corporation
    (TMC) and Hino Motors, Ltd. provided a FCHV-BUS, a fuel cell hybrid bus for a
    commercial bus route between central Tokyo and Tokyo International Airport
    (Haneda Airport) run by Airport Transport Service Co., Ltd.

For a complete listing of fuel cell
buses around the world, Fuel Cells 2000 offers both the U.S. and International Fuel Cell Bus Charts. 
For more information on the projects listed above or fuel cells in general,
please visit

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