850

Megawatts

of fuel cell products delivered in total

2200

Trucks

are being powered by Ballard’s hydrogen fuel cells

9.1%

Reduction

in Ballard’s total GHG emissions, 2018 - 2020


The Path to Drawdown: Fuel Cells

Internal combustion engine vehicles have dominated the transport and automotive landscape since the 1920s. But today, that landscape’s changing. Thanks to supportive policies and declining costs, there are millions of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. The difference in their effect on the climate is remarkable. Compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, CO2 emissions drop by 50% if an EV’s power comes from the conventional power grid. If powered by solar energy, emissions are cut by 95%.

While electric passenger cars and vans can be powered using lithium-ion batteries, there are other segments in the transportation sector that are more energy-intensive and harder to decarbonize. These include long-haul transport, shipping, and aviation. For these segments, hydrogen fuel cells will play an important role.

Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be produced by using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Green hydrogen is the process of obtaining hydrogen by using renewable power, which directly displaces hydrogen produced from fossil fuels. If the world is to keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius, green hydrogen needs to account for 12% of final energy use by 2050 (p. 24). And for this to happen, global electrolyser capacity -- that’s the system that breaks down water molecules into hydrogen -- needs to expand rapidly:

  • 0.3 GW of electrolyser capacity exists today
  • 5,000 GW of electrolyser capacity will be needed by 2050

That’s a CAGR of 39.8% between 2021 and 2050

About

Ballard Power Systems (stock ticker: BLDP) is a developer and manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cells for buses and trams, marine vessels, and critical infrastructure back-up power.

BLDP's Role in Drawdown

100% of Ballard’s revenue is generated from the sale of hydrogen fuel cells with diverse market applications. For example, it manufactures fuel cells for electric buses with a range of up to 300 miles between refueling, and can be refueled in less than 10 minutes; it also makes fuel cell products for marine vessels like ferries, river boats and cruise ships that provide them with zero-emission propulsion.

Ballard is also partnering with the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Audi, Daimler AG, Ford, and Honda to advance the development of hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles. These fuel cells have a long range of up to 435 miles and capacity for rapid refueling in less than 5 minutes.

Another application is back-up power for critical infrastructure like telecommunications, fiber broadband, and emergency networks. These are hydrogen fuel cell systems designed to kick in during power outages.

While Ballard doesn’t report precise units of fuel cells it sold, revenue from their sales has skyrocketed over the last several years, growing by almost 2.5x between 2016 and 2020.

BLDP: What We Like

Ballard has a track record of paying close attention to its carbon footprint, and has set a series of sustainability targets:

  • Reduced GHG emissions per employee by 25% between 2019 and 2020
  • Aims to reduce GHG emissions per employee by 30% by the end of 2021
  • Ballard’s “Missions Carbon Zero” (p. 15) is a commitment to evaluate and steadily reduce the environmental impact of their organization and their products with the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030
  • 96% of Ballard’s facilities (pp. 18) are powered by renewable energy produced from hydroelectric dams, biofuel and wind

On top of these efforts, Ballard is promoting broader environmental goals (p. 19): 

  • Reducing commuting by promoting work-from-home, carpooling, and bike-to-work initiatives
  • Promoting zero-emissions vehicles among staff
  • Recirculating hydrogen in fuel stack testing 
  • Installing regenerative load banks to feed electricity they generate from product testing into their internal microgrid

BLDP: What We Want to See Improve

Set Targets to Reduce Absolute Emissions


We are impressed with Ballard’s continued efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, and would like them to continue in this spirit. But we want them to become even more ambitious by shifting their focus to reducing and eliminate absolute GHG emissions, rather than emissions per employee.

Reduce Waste


Despite Ballard’s overall sustainability efforts, the total waste it generates and the proportion of hazardous waste have steadily increased. Between 2017 and 2020, total waste has grown by 38.9% annually, and the percentage of hazardous waste has risen from 1% to 7%. We urge Ballard to find ways to reduce their total waste in the near future.

Report Units and Capacities of Fuel Cells Sold


While we applaud Ballard’s detailed reporting of its operations and sustainability metrics, one thing that’s missing are the precise numbers of hydrogen fuel cells it has sold and their capacity. This data would make Ballard’s contribution to the growing role of hydrogen in the renewable energy mix more concrete. We would like to see these numbers as part of Ballard’s annual reports.

Other Fuel Cells Stocks in the Climate Index

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