Canada-based fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems and French battery system supplier Forsee Power have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a strategic partnership to develop fully integrated fuel cell and battery solutions, optimised for performance, cost and installation for heavy-duty hydrogen mobility applications including maritime.
The strategic partnership is the beginning of a long-term collaboration involving the co-design, co-development, production, marketing, and sales of integrated fuel cell-battery solutions.
With complementary technologies, customers, verticals and markets, the Ballard and Forsee Power partnership is expected to increase technological performance, optimize costs, extend service life, and reduce customer friction points by providing pre-integrated and optimized electric powertrain solutions.
Hydrogen electric powertrains are made up of a number of key components, including the fuel cell module, battery system, and Energy Management System (EMS). The fuel cell module, which is powered by hydrogen stored in tanks, produces electricity which is supplied to the electric powertrain. Batteries, charged by the electricity from the fuel cell, generate additional energy during sudden variations in load. The fuel cell and battery systems are thus complementary as the vessel can move by means of the fuel cell, battery, or both, as needed by the duty cycle. To ensure optimization and high efficiency between these components a reliable and smart EMS is critical.
For the planned integrated solution, Ballard will supply the fuel cell system and related controls, and Forsee Power will supply the battery system and related battery management system, cooling system and high voltage DC/DC conversion system. The parties will jointly develop the EMS to optimise the hybrid fuel cell and battery system architecture.
As part of the strategic relationship, Ballard is committing to participate as a cornerstone lead investor (up to €40m) in connection with the proposed IPO of Forsee. This commitment would allow Ballard to acquire a stake in Forsee Power upon its initial public offering on Euronext in Paris, France, with Ballard also having the right to appoint a board member to the Forsee Power board of directors.
“A key element of our corporate strategy is to simplify the fuel cell electric vehicle experience for OEM customers and end users,” said Randy MacEwen, Ballard’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our clear goal is to create more value for our customers. We are working to improve FCEV powertrain and vehicle performance, lower lifecycle costs, and simplify powertrain and vehicle systems integration and service. We believe fuel cells and batteries are highly complementary and can be integrated together in a smart and compelling architecture that optimises performance. Today, OEM customers typically procure the various pieces of the fuel cell and battery powertrain separately, and then need to integrate them together. By offering pre-designed and fully optimized and integrated fuel cell-battery solutions to our customers, we expect to ease implementation friction points. Our exciting partnership with Forsee Power represents an important step to achieve our goal. Together, we plan to accelerate scaled adoption of hydrogen FCEVs in heavy-duty mobility applications.”
“I am delighted with the signing of this strategic MOU with Ballard, with whom we share the same ambition to develop sustainable, zero emission mobility. This partnership is expected to provide key strategic advantages: technological know-how, industrial capacities, and geographical coverage to capture the growth of the hydrogen vehicle market. While the climate emergency urges the transport sector to accelerate its energy transition, it will be a game changer to advance hydrogen mobility, bringing a stronger offering of zero-emission technologies to our OEM customers for road, rail and marine applications. I want to thank Ballard for their trust materialised by this significant cornerstone investment as part of our IPO,” stated Christophe Gurtner, Chairman & CEO of Forsee Power.