Ballard to Open European Fuel Cell Center to Serve Marine Market

April 05, 2019 by Scott McMahan

Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S, a subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems, Inc. announced that it is establishing a Marine Center of Excellence ("Marine CoE") dedicated to fuel cell marine applications at the company's engineering, manufacturing, and service facility in Hobro, Denmark. The Marine CoE will design and manufacture heavy-duty fuel cell modules to address zero-emission powertrain requirements for the marine industry.

By the end of 2019, Ballard plans to finish the construction and begin operations of the new motive fuel cell system manufacturing hall at the Hobro location.

The company expects the production hall to have an annual production capacity of more than 15MW of fuel cell modules. Development work on the company's fuel cell modules at the Marine CoE will be based on Ballard's new FCgen®-LCS fuel cell stack and the next-generation heavy duty power module, which are scheduled for commercial launch later this year. Ballard will design the fuel cell modules to meet European marine certification requirements.

Reducing Pollutants and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Reducing pollutants and carbon emissions is a high priority for the marine industry and port cities. Regulations to restrict diesel emissions are being introduced at the local and regional levels in various parts of the world. These restrictions are generating interest in zero-emission fuel cell technology.

In 2018 the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from ships, including a 50% reduction in GHGs by 2050 as compared to the 2008 level, and the complete elimination of GHGs as soon as possible in this century. The IMO estimated that 1.135 billion tonnes of CO2 was emitted by ships in 2008, representing 3.5% of the global total for that year.

Value Proposition of Ballard Fuel Cell Modules

Therefore, Ballard's zero-emission fuel cell modules offer a compelling value proposition for marine vessels, in both stand-alone and hybrid deployments with batteries.

Ballard points out that its fuel cell modules offer design flexibility, including modular components and scalable power (from 100kW to over 1MW) to support vessel propulsion, auxiliary power and/or system redundancy.

Moreover, the modules extended range, which is proportionate to the volume of energy-rich compressed liquid hydrogen fuel stored on board a vessel that can be rapidly replenished. This rapid replenishment capability means that the modules do not create a weight challenge like the addition of heavy batteries.

Another advantage, according to Ballard is the favorable economics in part due to the compatibility of fuel cell dc power with battery hybrid electric architectures.

"We are now witnessing early indicators of long-term disruption in the marine industry, with dirty diesel engines being substituted by zero-emission fuel cell systems. Our Marine CoE - together with our extensive experience and knowledge in Heavy Duty Motive applications such as buses, trucks and trains - will position Ballard at the epicenter of this critical transition in the marine market," Jesper Themsen, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S said.

European Marine Projects

In addition to work on MW-scale marine power solutions with ABB, Ballard is actively working on a number of sub-MW marine projects, including the development of HySeas III, the world's first sea-going renewables-powered car and passenger ferry, which will operate in the Orkney Archipelago off the coast of Scotland.

Another sub-MW marine project that the company is working on is the H2PORTS project to facilitate a rapid transition at Europe's ports from fossil fuels to low-carbon, zero-emission alternatives based on hydrogen and fuel cells, initially at the Port of Valencia in Spain.

Ballard is also participating in a Flagships project to demonstrate fuel cell commercial readiness by powering a ferry in Norway and a river barge in France.

As noted in a September 2018 announcement, the benefits of Ballard's FCgen-LCS fuel cell stack compared to the current generation of liquid fuel cells include significantly lower life-cycle cost, ultra-long durability, higher power density and freeze-start capability. Other advantages of the FCgen-LCS fuel cell stack include the high tolerance to operating conditions, simplified systems integration, and sustainability.