Ballard Power Systems celebrated the grand opening of it’s FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stack joint venture operation in the City of Yunfu, in China’s Guangdong Province.

Ballard has a 10% interest in the joint venture – called Guangdong Synergy Ballard Hydrogen Power Co., Ltd (JVCo) – together with partner Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co., Ltd.

The fuel cell stacks manufactured by JVCo are expected to be used primarily in fuel cell engines assembled in China to provide propulsion power for zero-emission fuel cell electric buses and commercial vehicles in China.

The ceremonial opening event was attended by the Party Secretary of China’s Guangdong Province, Hu Chunhua, Mayor of Yunfu, Wang Sheng, and Vice-Mayor of Foshan/Yunfu, Xu Guo, together with other Chinese government Officials.

Speaking at the event, Ballard’s President and CEO, Randy MacEwan, said, “This landmark opening of our stack joint venture operation represents a critical part of our localisation strategy to profitably service the unprecedented level of market interest for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Heavy Duty Motive applications in China – the largest market in the world. Our strategy is to enable Ballard’s Chinese partners to rapidly achieve scale and significantly drive down product costs while also satisfying local content objectives for locally manufactured stocks and modules.”

He continued, “With Ballard’s brand strength, technology leadership and field experience, we believe the company is uniquely positioned to address the fast-growing market for FCEVs in Heavy Duty Motive applications in China and around the globe.”

China map

David Whyte, Ballard’s Vice-President of Operations, said the stack production operation already has more than 90 employees and has begun producing qualified product.

The JVCo operation is currently ramping to an annualised production capacity of 6,000 fuel cell stacks by late 2017 and is designed to achieve an annualised production capacity of 20,000 fuel cell stacks, based on three shifts running five-days per week. The operation has implemented certain advanced automation techniques.

JVCo has an exclusive right to manufacture and sell FCvelocity-9SSL stacks in China. Exclusivity is subject to certain performance criteria of the joint venture, including compliance with: a code of ethics; Ballard’s quality policies and branding practices; payment terms; and certain intellectual property covenants; as well as achievement of the minimum annual ‘take or pay’ MEA volumes. Ballard will have the exclusive right to purchase FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stacks and sub-components from JVCo for sale outside China.

Whyte concluded, “JVCo will also provide Ballard access to additional stack production capacity to help us cost effectively meet growing global demand while mitigating the need for future capital spend on in-house capacity.” 

Ballard contributed approximately $1.0m for its 10% interest in JVCo. It has no further obligation to provide future funding to JVCo. Ballard’s CEO serves as one of the three members of the JVCo board of directors. Ballard has veto rights over certain key JVCo decisions, including the appointment of certain key management, appointment of auditors, and JVCo’s pricing and branding policies.