Ballard, HDF Energy Developing Multi-MW Fuel Cell Systems

By Jack Burke10 December 2019

Ballard Power Systems and Hydrogene de France (HDF Energy) said they will develop a multi MW scale fuel cell system into HDF Energy’s Renewstable power plant, which is designed for stationary power applications.

The Renewstable power plant is a multi-MW baseload system enabling large-scale storage of intermittent renewable wind or solar energy in the form of hydrogen through the process of electrolysis, as well as electricity generation using that hydrogen feedstock together with a fuel cell system. This power plant can produce zero-emission power on a 24/7 basis from intermittent renewable energy, in order to support electrical grids, the companies said.

“For years, indeed decades, industry has imagined using hydrogen as an energy carrier that matches variable output from renewable power generation, such as solar photovoltaics and wind, with grid power demand,” said Rob Campbell, Ballard’s chief commercial officer. “Our collaboration with HDF Energy presents a compelling opportunity to realize this vision. We believe hydrogen will play a key role in the emerging clean energy transition, as governments and industry increasingly look for solutions to decarbonize energy, mobility, and industry, while firming grids with increasing penetration of variable renewables. Indeed, hydrogen offers high value energy storage that enables these sector couplings.” Campbell said the Development Agreement and collaboration is reflective of the expected market interest in a solution where HDF Energy combines its experience and capabilities as an independent power producer focused on renewable power generation, together with Ballard’s technology in heavy duty proton exchange membrane, or PEM, fuel cells and experience in the design and integration of MW-scale stationary PEM systems.

“The integrated architecture of renewables-electrolysis-hydrogen storage fuel cell systems can deliver reduced energy costs, improved grid stability and resiliency, increased penetration of renewables and greater energy independence,” Campbell said. “We also envision HDF’s Renewstable power plant being used to store green hydrogen for use in other applications, such as zero-emission fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles.”

Kevin Colbow, Ballard chief technology officer said the companies are planning for two phases of work. The first phase involves the design, build and supply of two next-generation MW-scale containerized stationary PEM fuel cell systems totaling 3 MW, based on Ballard’s new high-durability LCS fuel cell stack. Second, after HDF Energy incorporates these systems into their Renewstable power plant in an initial project, we plan to proceed with a technology transfer program to enable HDF Energy to assemble these fuel cell systems for global market sales of their Renewstable power plants.

In the initial HDF Energy project, an installation is planned in French Guiana, under the Centrale Electricité de l’Ouest Guyanais (CEOG) project. The project will involve 90 MWh of energy storage from hydrogen, representing a first for the fuel cell industry, the companies said.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Ballard, a leading designer of reliable PEM fuel cell systems,” said Damien Havard, CEO of HDF Energy noted. “We believe our expanded collaboration will establish a new reference for multi-MW power-to-power applications. This alliance strengthens Renewstable power plants’ position as a reliable and competitive alternative to fossil fuel power plants.”

Subject to certain conditions, the collaboration contemplates a future technology transfer of Ballard’s new MW-scale containerized PEM fuel cell system to HDF Energy with an exclusive royalty-bearing, non-transferable, multi-year global license for the manufacture and sale of MW-scale fuel cell systems for Renewstable power plant systems. The collaboration also contemplates Ballard supplying LCS fuel cell stacks for these systems based on an exclusive long-term supply agreement. HDF Energy is planning to establish a manufacturing facility in Bordeaux, France.

The transaction is subject to completion of definitive agreements and is reliant in part on the CEOG project, which is subject to customary conditions for multi-year programs of this scope, including but not limited to permitting and regulatory approvals, financings and project execution activities.

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