Ballard lands $10m deal to provide 33 Chinese buses with fuel cells

One bad deal in China isn’t keeping Ballard (TSX:BLD) away from business across the Pacific. 

Ballard CEO Randy MacEwen | Photo: Dominic Schaeffer

One bad deal in China isn’t keeping Ballard (TSX:BLD) away from business across the Pacific.

The clean energy company announced June 8 it’s secured a $10-million deal to provide two Chinese companies with fuel-cell technology to power 33 buses.

In Janaury, the Burnaby-based company announced it had terminated two agreements worth US$17 million with Beijing’s Azure Hydrogen after the Chinese firm missed multiple payments.

Ballard CEO Randy MacEwen described the deal as a “costly and embarrassing toast-up” but assured investors no intellectual property was transferred to its Chinese partner.

Despite the bad deal, Ballard is still pursuing the lucrative Chinese market, where the government’s desire to reduce pollution is boosting interest in clean energy companies.

The new partnerships with Nantong Zehe New Energy Technology and Guangdong Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology call for nearly three-dozen fuel-cell buses to be operating in the cities of Yunfu and Rugao by 2016.

"We continue to see strong growth opportunities in China's mass transit market where fuel cells are increasingly being discussed as the next generation of clean propulsion,” MacEwen said in a statement.

“This demand is being driven by China's growing need for clean urban mass transit and air quality policies."

China aims to deploy at least 1,000 clean energy buses across 48 cities to clamp down on air pollution, and Beijing is offering substantial subsidies to reduce air pollution.

Fuel cell buses and electric buses qualify for US$150,000, while hydrogen fuelling stations are eligible for US$650,000.