About Ballard Power Systems – ( Solar Thermal Magazine)
The catalysts for future economic growth will be based on distributed generation of power, off-grid continuous power supply, and the use of clean energy. For example, the use of hydrogen and oxygen can be used to produce heat and electricity through a technology known as fuel cell technology. The greatest advantage with fuel cell technology compared to the use of batteries is that whereas the batteries can lose charge, the fuel cell cannot.
Some companies realized time ago that the use of such technology will be a great business opportunity and made investment on the same. One of such companies is Ballard’s Power Systems.
Fuel Cell Company-Ballard
Ballard Power System is a public company with the main offices located in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. It was founded by three people: Dr. Geoffrey Ballard, Keith Prater, and Paul Howard. Its cardinal objective is the delivery of products and services in fuel cell technology. It has designed and eventually shipped more than 215 MW of hydrogen fuel cell technology and it plans to continue with the trend. In 1993, the company went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange and listed in 1995 at NASDAQ. It has two divisions: The Ballard Fuel Cells Systems and Dantherm Power.
Stephen Karrafa- the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ballard Power Systems- acknowledges the past expectations and disappointments of the energy company. In the early 2000s, the consumers were expecting a fuel cell revolution in the transportation industry. The stock chart of the company was reading a whooping $ 115. By late 2012, the stock had experienced the harsh reality of a resurgence attracting a meager 59 cents.
The company had to invent and adopt ways of remaining relevant in the market. As a response, it made a transition from an engineering company to a company that develops a variety of products that are commercially viable. The internal realignment involved putting in place concrete infrastructure that would enable it remain competitive in the market.
At the moment, the company is focusing on a number of product applications. Its main area is dealing with backup sources of power for telecommunication companies. The power systems company has recognized that telecommunication company deal with thousands or millions of users and also deal with high demand services. For example, business and individual rely heavily on making calls and text messages in order to advance their daily operations. Therefore, it has exploited that business opportunity because it knows too well that such companies will need backup power in order to effectively serve their clients.
Ballard Power Systems were deployed in the Bahamas prior to Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane made the grid go down and the Ballard Systems came in handy by supporting some sites of telecommunications services awaiting power restoration. That hurricane event, though unfortunate, provided a platform for giving further legitimacy to fuel cell technology.
The company also works in other sectors such as material handling (use of forklift), bus power module business, and still provides engineering services to the automotive industry. The company has noted that its past engagement with Ford and Daimler did not bear much fruits. Presently, it is using a new business model to provide automotive services to Volkswagen, a business opportunity that is showing a high profit margin.
The company has stated its commitment to a clean energy future through the application of smarter technologies. Energy analysts have noted that the company is in an energy substitution game. In the telecommunications industry, it is competing with diesel gensets, with the buses, it is competing with diesel fuel, and with the forklifts, it is competing with the lead acid battery. Overall, Ballard Power Systems is fighting the energy technology substitution war through multiple fronts.