Ballard announces record order for FC modules from Solaris

Ballard Power Systems has announced its largest order to date. It comes from Polish bus manufacturer Solaris and comprises 1,000 fuel cell modules, which will be delivered for fuel cell buses for the European market by the end of 2027.

Image: Solaris

The new supply contract combines previous orders from Solaris for around 300 modules and around 700 newly ordered modules – and also includes contractual aftermarket services and guarantees. According to Ballard, the new contract is valid for deliveries between 2024 and the end of 2027. Of the total 1,000 FC modules, around 800 units will be of the type FCmove-HD 70 kW; the remaining 200 units will be FCmove-HD+ 100 kW system. The kW figure refers to the power of the fuel cell module in each case. According to Ballard, both the 12- and 18-metre Solaris buses can be equipped with the drives.

Randy MacEwen, President and CEO of Ballard, calls it a groundbreaking agreement that marks the next phase of the partnership between Ballard and Solaris. “We are on the road to achieving scaled deployment of fuel cell buses, which is a critical lever to facilitate economies of scale and cost down initiatives, driving improved economics and reduced emissions for fleet operators.”

Javier Iriarte, CEO of Solaris, says that fuel cell vehicles will make up an increasing proportion of his company’s production mix. “Solaris has become a leader in deploying hydrogen technology in public transport and an experienced partner for European operators. To date, we have delivered nearly 200 hydrogen-powered buses and another over 500 units are in our orderbook for next two years.”

Solaris had ordered almost 350 FC modules from Ballard in 2023 alone. In November, the bus manufacturer ordered 62 new units for hydrogen buses in Germany and Poland. In mid-October, the order totalled 177 modules, deliveries of which began in 2023 and will be completed in 2026. The Polish bus manufacturer also previously ordered 96 units in August.

Solaris presented the current generation of its twelve-metre-long solo bus, the Urbino 12 hydrogen, in 2019. The market launch of the Urbino 18 hydrogen FC articulated bus took place in September 2022. The two vehicles use slightly different fuel cell systems: the twelve-metre version is equipped with hydrogen fuel cell units with 70 kW, while the longer version has 100 kW.

Meanwhile, Ballard also wants to gain a stronger foothold in the US. The supplier signed a long-term supply agreement with North American bus manufacturer NFI Group at the beginning of the year, with an initial firm order for at least 100 modules with planned delivery in 2024. Ballard is also planning a new “Gigafactory” in Texas to produce fuel cell components and systems. The company plans to invest around 160 million dollars in the new Ballard Rockwall Giga 1 factory in Rockwall, Texas. Ballard has also secured a 40 million-dollar grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for the first phase of the factory, which will open its doors in 2027.


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