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Ballard Power Systems to fuel India’s first hydrogen trains

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By Louis Allen - 
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Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLDP) has announced it has received a fuel cell order from leading rail system integrator Medha Servo Drives, which will go towards developing India’s first hydrogen-powered trains.

The two retrofitted diesel-electric commuter trains will use eight units of Ballard’s latest fuel cell technology, 100kW FCmoveTM-HD+.

Ballard will assist Medha through the use of that technology, in an effort to guide Indian Railways’ path to achieve its net zero ambitions.

Ballard chief commercial officer David Mucciacciaro said the announcement marks greater global efforts towards decarbonising mobility.

“Our progress in decarbonising the rail market is just beginning, as we work with leading rolling stock manufacturers, integrators and operators globally,” he said.

“We are excited to grow our fuel cell business in India, and to power the first hydrogen powered, zero emission passenger trains in the Indian market.”

The Canada-based company’s fuel cells are driving the electrification of mobility, spanning from buses, commercial trucks, trains, marine vessels, and stationary power.

Ballard will hope to join the likes of French manufacturer Alstom, which just recently enabled the world’s first hydrogen-powered train passenger service in Germany, through its hydrogen fuel cell.

Economic benefits and emissions reduction

Ballard’s latest 100kW FCmoveTM-HD+ technology offers improved efficiency and power density compared to its previous modules.

The fuel cell modyles will be shipped in 2023, and the trains are expected to go into service in 2024, with the potential for additional retrofits to come thereafter.

Indian Railways said its investment in the hydrogen fuel cell project will have a payback of less than two years – given the cost of hydrogen is now less than diesel.

These conversions are expected to also provide a reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 11 tonnes and eliminate almost a tonne particulate matter per year.

Medha Servo Drives managing director Mr Kasyap Reddy said the company is excited by the opportunity to partner with Ballard.

“Rail transportation is a critical piece of infrastructure across India and we are proud to be taking the first steps to decarbonise this facet of our economy,” he said.

“With leading technology and strong project economics, we are optimistic about the future of zero emission rail transport.”