BC Hydro begins hydrogen fuel cell field trial

19 July 2004 - BC Hydro has announced it has developed a hydrogen-fuel-cell based emergency backup system for utility applications, powered by Ballard Power Systems' Nexa RM Series fuel cell modules.

The system is environmentally friendly, provides extended backup time and is expected to offer better long-term reliability and reduced maintenance compared to existing battery and generator systems. The installation for this field trial is at BC Hydro's Edmonds office in Burnaby.

"This is the first field-trial of our Nexa RM Series fuel cell modules in British Columbia and we are very excited to provide a backup power solution to the utility industry," said Ballard President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Campbell. "Ballard and BC Hydro have agreed to work together on the development and commercialization of backup power systems, utilizing our Nexa RM Series, for electric utility repeater stations and electric utility sub-stations. Our goal is to jointly collaborate on the development of an end-use product that can be utilized by utilities world wide."

The Nexa RM Series has the potential to replace battery-based systems in as many as 500 applications within BC Hydro's operations and thousands of applications in utilities around the world. BC Hydro has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ballard that includes both field testing and the potential for commercialization of the Nexa RM Series for utility backup applications.

"We want to continue to enhance the reliability of our operations," said BC Hydro vice-president Sustainability, Bruce Sampson. "This fuel cell technology has the potential to do that in a manner that is also better for the environment - and at lower cost and with better performance. We look forward to working with Ballard and our other partners on this project toward validating the system in a range of utility applications and environments."

Ballard and BC Hydro are working with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to deploy further field tests with utilities in the United States.

Key partners on this project include: the Province of B.C., the Government of Canada, the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation (NRC-IFCI), Fuel Cells Canada, Powertech and Southern California Edison.

Maja Veljkovic, Director General of NRC-IFCI of National Research Council said, "Through partnerships with both fuel cell developers and end users, NRC-IFCI provides the facilities and expertise to transfer technology and help grow British Columbia's fuel cell cluster."

Fuel Cells Canada President and CEO, Dr. Ron Britton added, "This is a great example of how the federal and provincial government work with Fuel Cells Canada to accelerate the development of Canada's world leading fuel cell and hydrogen technology."

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