Ballard to Develop Domestic Power Generators in South Africa

Godfrey Oliphant, South African deputy minister of mineral resourses (l) and Karim Kassam, Ballard vice-president of business and corporate development.

Ballard Power Systems announced this week that it has secured the support of the South African government for field trials of fuel-cell generators for use in homes in that country’s remote communities.

The government’s unspecified financial contribution will partially cover the cost of installing a limited number of demonstration units.

Ballard is developing the fuel-cell generators in partnership with Anglo American Platinum, a supplier of platinum, a key component of Ballard fuel-cells. The mining company, which operates in remote areas of South Africa, will help define market requirements, according to a Ballard spokesperson.

Godfrey Oliphant, South Africa’s deputy minister of mineral resources, announced his government’s support for the pilot project at a fuel-cell conference in Vancouver this week.

This is not the first time Ballard has launched a project aimed at testing the commercial viability of residential power generators. In 2001 the company announced a partnership that was expected to see Coleman Powermate take fuel-cell generators into commercial production. In 2006 Ballard announced a pilot project that would place several hundred stationary fuel-cell generators in Japanese homes. Neither of those projects led to commercial production.

Ballard is developing an entirely new fuel-cell generator for the South Africa pilot project, using methanol as fuel. The company currently produces stationary power generators for commercial use, primarily for backup power in telecommunications applications.