Fuel cells & The Future of Infrastructure: India partners with IdaTech and Ballard

October 15 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

Fuel cells generate power by converting chemical energy into electricity. They are ideal candidates for low cost, reliable, distributed power generators and remote power systems for the telecommunications and ‘cold chain’ industries. Instead of relying on traditional ‘grid’ connectivity, fuel cells could help to change the way we look at energy infrastructure in the next century.

Now FuelCell Markets.com is reporting a major contract order from India-based Acme, an emerging energy infrastructure solutions company. Acme.in has contracted with IdaTech (Bend, Oregon) for up to 30,000 5kW hydrogen fuel cell systems to be delivered by March 2013. Idatech will be using Ballard Power fuel cell stacks. Acme is expected to use these systems as back up power for India’s telecommunication infrastructure and to support ‘cold chain’ which is essential for growing access to fresh food.

The three companies are also looking to establish manufacturing hub for fuel cell systems in India as a way of reducing the cost of these clean distributed power systems.

Why are fuel cells important for India and China?

While most attention around fuel cells is focused on electric vehicles, the most likely market applications are for portable electronics and stationary (back up/remote)power systems.

This order represents a symbolic step in using fuel cell power systems as an infrastructure solution to wireless telecommunication and ‘cold-chain’ in rapidly emerging economies in South Asia, Asia, South America and Africa where building out a vast electric grid could take decades.

Low end Disruptive Idea – Onsite Power Generation
Fuel cells are like minature power plants. They only need ‘fuel’ in the form of chemical energy like hydrogen, natural gas, or liquid methanol.

The combination of high density energy storage (e.g. solid hydrogen) with low cost fuel cell appliances could be a viable alternative to traditional electrical infrastructure where costs delay access to electrical wires.

Distributing fuel could grow through retail channels and vehicle based delivery. Coal was once delivered by cart and truck to home furnaces. Heavy oil trucks still deliver fuel to homes around the world. Why not package electricity chemically in the form hydrogen for fuel cells?

That is a disruptive idea the might become feasible within a decade.

But first, the market needs to grow around immediate opportunities like powering remote telecommunication towers and refrigerated delivery vehicles.

IdaTech’s CEO Hal Koyama believes “This is a transformational agreement for IdaTech and also for the fuel cell industry. An order of this magnitude will serve as a catalyst for the fuel cell industry as a whole and serve as a reference point for fuel cell adoption in our key market of critical power backup systems.”

Sources:
IdeaTech Press Release

Details via FuelCell Markets

The minimum order under the Agreement is for 10,000 systems for delivery during 2009 and 2010 with the potential for two further orders of 10,000 units each for delivery between 2011 and 2013. Under the Agreement, IdaTech is to deliver an initial 310 hydrogen fuel cell systems in 2009, 9,690 natural gas systems in 2010 and the possibility of a further 20,000 natural gas systems for delivery between 2011 and 2013.

30,000 Fuel Cell System Supply Agreement Signed with ACME Group - Supply agreement of up to 30,000 5kW fuel cell systems (minimum order of 10,000) with the ACME Group, a leading supplier of passive infrastructure to the telecommunications industry in India - Initial order for 310 systems for delivery in 2009; deployment of further 9,690 systems commencing in early 2010 - Potential for 20,000 additional units for deployment between 2011 and 2013 - Ballard Power Systems, Inc (“Ballard”) will supply the fuel cell stacks - Exclusive distribution agreement for India - Formation of joint venture with the ACME Group to establish a low cost manufacturing facility in India

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