Ballard Power was happy with the performance of its ElectraGen fuel cell systems when they provided backup electricity to the Bahamas’ mobile telephone network during and after Hurricane Sandy. According to Cantech Letter, when the storm downed power lines and cut off grid power, each of the 5 KW systems operated as needed to maintain consistent power.
Ballard Power was initially focused on hydrogen fuel cell technology for the green automotive industry, but couldn’t make the economics work. The company now focuses on fuel cell power for telecommunications backup.
While Ballard Power got out of the transportation industry, Plug Power is having success in the segment. The developer of hydrogen fuel cells has received a $2.5 million award from the US Department of Energy, according to Hydrogen Fuel News. The award was granted to enable Plug Power to retrofit 15 electric tow tractors so that they operate using hydrogen fuel cells rather than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The tow tractors will then be deployed at two FedEx departments at domestic airports in Tennessee and California.
The DoE will evaluate the performance data from the Plug Power/FedEx pilot to help it determine the viability of fuel cells. The DoE’s assessment could impact the fuel cell industry as a whole.