Ballard Power, IdaTech Help Stop Power Loss in India—a Closer Look at the Deal

7/22/09

Wireless telecommunication networks require a constant, uninterrupted supply of electricity. Unfortunately, power outages are a common problem in many parts of India. The electrical grid in those areas can go down for hours every day. As a solution to this problem, Indian telecommunications company ACME Tele Power has turned to hydrogen fuel-cell generators to keep power flowing even when the central electrical grid goes down. As we previously reported, Vancouver, BC-based Ballard Power Systems has formed a partnership with Bend, OR-based IdaTech, and together they are manufacturing these generators for ACME; earlier this month, they completed an agreement to send 310 direct hydrogen-fueled Electragen generators to ACME.

Hydrogen fuel-cell generators are a better answer to backup power issues than coal or gasoline-powered generators for a few reasons. They are cleaner, both environmentally and internally. They have few, if any, emissions from their electricity generation, and tend to require less in the way of maintenance—an important concern especially in the more remote parts of India. This deal is the latest in an upsurge in hydrogen fuel-cell usage, notably, as we reported, in cars.

Ballard Power developed and produces the two types of fuel cell. These first 310 generators are built to use hydrogen directly. Future shipments, this year and possibly in years to come, will be fueled by natural gas to generate hydrogen to run the fuel cells and thus the generator. IdaTech, a manufacturer of backup power supplies for more than a decade, signed an agreement with Ballard in May last year to incorporate Ballard’s fuel cells into some of its generators. When ACME approached IdaTech in October about the generators, Ballard was included as part of the deal, according to Tony Cochrane, director of the backup power market segment at Ballard.

IdaTech was founded in 1996 as a backup-power product maker, specifically low-maintenance machines that run on cleaner fuels, like natural gas, than standard generators. Ballard was originally founded in 1979 to make better lithium batteries, although since then it has moved exclusively into … Next Page »

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

Single Page Currently on Page: 1 2

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.