As the then market leader, Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) determined soon after taking up its fuel cell activities that there was no way it could compete in the transportation sector. The upfront investment that such a move required was just too great. A decision was made to outsource these activities to AFCC, a Daimler-Ford joint venture
Plug Power’s third-quarter results proved disappointing. The company said that the figures didn’t have any influence on its great prospects, considering a customer base which includes corporations as large as Walmart and Amazon. Their bookings are expected to top USD 600 million in the coming years. During the reporting period, Plug delivered 2,753 GenDrive systems for forklift retrofits, which generated USD 61.4 million in revenue. Current production capacity is at 15,000 systems per year, with 95 percent of them manufactured in-house. Ballard’s contribution has been reduced to a minimum.
Between Oct. 10 and 12 last year, the 16th World of Energy Solutions took place on Stuttgart’s trade show premises – which was good news, considering that Landesmesse Stuttgart and e-mobil BW had previously done little to nothing to support a 2016 implementation. It made the reduction in the number of exhibitors and attendees seem less important and easier to bear. After many long faces on the first day, the mood did improve on the second thanks to an increased interest in the event.
If one takes into account order bookings, collaborations, product developments and prospective markets, buying shares of fuel cell companies looks ever more promising. But the capitalization of the market leaders in fuel cells described in this article amount to a mere USD 750 million – a stark contrast to Tesla, the electric car pioneer, which has a market cap of USD 34 billion. These companies may very well get closer over the coming years, if Tesla gradually loses in value while fuel cell shares increase considerably in price.
The conference call of Canadian-based Ballard Power Systems about the latest figures from the last quarter of 2015 – and consequentially, for all of last year – revealed some very intriguing news, comments and plans for the future. I will refrain from discussing the figures (or losses posted) and interpreting them (how the individual business fields developed). Instead, I will focus on the excellent outlook
Ballard Power is placing a bigger focus on China, evidenced by the various agreements with Chinese companies from the field of bus manufacturing and the development of hydrogen-driven rail vehicles. According to company information, the Canadian fuel-cell manufacturer paid special attention to only collaborate with known, reputable partners, whether big or small, which enjoy their own location advantages.
Second quarter figures certainly fell short of expectations. All segments reported decreasing revenues. Still: The second half of 2015 should bring forth many positive developments in several areas, according to Ballard’s CEO, Randall MacEwen. FuelCell Energy would be “extremely busy.” This means: I assume that the takeover of Protonex will soon become reality, as over 50% of preliminary votes by Protonex’s shareholders were in favor of the deal.
Until recently, fuel cells have been of little importance in rail transport. This spring, however, the company CSR Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., which is based in eastern China, presented a tram which is driven with hydrogen. The new H2 tram, which features a fuel cell system from Ballard, left the production line in the port city of Qingdao
Hydrogenics (HYGS, US$9.50) already has that which Ballard is planning with Chinese firm CSR in the bag: the company is providing Alstom with FC technology for use in trains. Order value: minimum of US$50m. over a time frame of ten years.
In early May 2015, the company was also able to report a technological breakthrough with the presentation of the most powerful