Ballard’s bus business runs into trouble

A showcase fuel cell bus built with Ballard technology.

Need-to-know news and insight for Tuesday, Jan. 6

Bye-bye Ballard
Ballard Power’s foray into China was dealt a serious blow Friday when the company axed its contract with a with a Chinese partner, Azure Hydrogen Energy Science and Technology, due to a breach of contract. The dustup compounds on news in December that the municipality of Whistler had put its hydrogen fuel cell buses, once a technology showcase for Ballard, up for sale. While the sale of the Whistler fleet was a symbolic blow for Ballard’s business selling fuel cell components for buses, it didn’t impact the company’s 2014 revenues. This latest dispute, however, and the potential legal ramifications, will leave Ballard short of its 2014 fiscal targets, writes Nick Waddell. (via Cantech Letter)

Big Hydro’s swan song
Are multi-billion-dollar investments in big dams based on sound policy? The answer might be no, writes Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe and Mail. “Christy Clark’s refusal to submit the Site C power project for review by the B.C. Utilities Commission suggests she’s not especially confident of winning the argument,” he writes on BC Hydro’s recently approved $8.8 billion hydro project. Once a cash cow of provincial governments from B.C. to Quebec—supplying cheap electricity and power for export to the U.S.—hydro utilities might not be as lucrative as they once were. The reason: cheap natural gas could undercut demand south of the border. (via The Globe and Mail)

Double double trouble
Tim Hortons is the dominant coffee chain across Canada—everywhere except Vancouver. So why hasn’t the Lower Mainland warmed up to the double double? It might have to do with its late entry into the market, says Vince Piccolo, founder of Caffe Artigiano. It should come as no surprise that Starbucks, which entered the Vancouver market in 1987—seven years before Timmies’reigns supreme in Vancouver. Piccolo has another theory too: “frankly, [Vancouverites] are used to better coffee.”