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Ballard to provide 1MW fuel cell system to Toyota for California campus

30 April 2011

Ballard Power Systems will deploy a one-megawatt fuel cell generator that will provide peak electrical power and heat at the Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. (TMS) sales and marketing headquarters campus in Torrance, California.

The CLEARgen fuel cell system will utilize hydrogen produced by steam-reformation of renewable bio-gas generated at a landfill. Deployment of the CLEARgen system will enable Toyota to satisfy peak and mid-peak power needs using electricity from either the fuel cell system or from the power grid.

CLEARgen will be used to provide power to a number of locations on the multi-building campus, including Toyota and Lexus headquarter buildings, data center operations building and employee fitness centre. It is estimated that the system will facilitate reduced consumption of peak grid power and avoidance of up to 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The TMS headquarters campus houses 5,000 associates over 125 acres. The ability to offset peak electricity usage with an emission-free fuel cell system will create significant savings, while reducing our environmental footprint.

—Mark Yamauchi, TMS Facilities Operations Manager

Heat created by the fuel cell system will also be utilized to provide hot water and space heating in the Toyota employee activity center and in the Lexus headquarter building within the office campus. Use of this heat will offset natural gas consumption on campus, thereby avoiding as much as a further 28 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The system is expected to be commissioned in 2012. Project funding is being provided through California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). A stationary fuel cell power generation platform currently under development at Ballard and financially supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm’s-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada, will be used in the TMS campus system.

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Comments

Project funding is being provided through California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

Not to be too critical, but can't Toyota afford to pay for their own system?

Reasonable question SJC. Lots of politics in this one. Ballard, a Canadian company that has been in and out of the FC business for years, is looking to enter the potentially lucrative SOFC CHP market. They have a steep road ahead as they'll have to compete with Bloom Energy which has claimed significant technical advantages (stack costs in particular.)

There is also synergy with a PHEV car maker like Toyota. When the Plug-in Prius arrives next year, Toyota can let buyers stop by their campus charge station for a free charge. Since the H2 comes from landfill reclamation - it's all good and all green.

We think Toyota should pony up some of these costs since they get the glory of green, sustainable electric use.

Ballard and the writers of these press releases need to get smarter on positioning the impact of these sustainable systems. The metric of impact is no longer CO2 saved... It IS fossil fuel NOT CONSUMED. This simple adjustment in language enlists far more supporters than the outdated climate change diatribe.

Let's get smart about what actually works with the public these days. Clinging to old, ineffectual climate campaign metrics based on CO2 is divisive. Everyone agrees we need to use less foreign oil for energy. Why not use this common ground to our advantage??

I think it may be OK because the more large installations the more valid the concept. They are using it as a CHP configuration, so that helps promote those ideas too.

I recall reading that this Toyota office just laid off a bunch of people, so maybe this project was in the works and the only way it was going to get done was with public funds. Either way, I hope it works out and they do many more.

Its not a sofc its a pem fuel cell.

I think it is PEM, I tried to find out from their web site, but got caught in market speak. I do not recall Ballard developing an SOFC, if they did it would take landfill methane directly and they are reforming it, which is good because landfill gas is of horrible quality.

Yup tho I do wonder what kind of pem stack they are using in this. They have everything from 5000 hour to 60000 hour life stacks and as it is stationary they dont have to worry about weight... I think thier stationary models are something from 20-60000 hour runtimes.

Ballard has lots of experience with PEMs and their efficiency numbers are good. It is not all that hard to reform methane to hydrogen and if they use high temperature PEMs, they are more immune to CO poisoning.

Thanks for the heads up. Thought they were going after the higher efficiency SOFC competition. The extra step to steam reform the landfill CH4 will cost something. And there are not a lot of landfill gas plants to begin with.

But it is encouraging to see Ballard getting a high profile position on the Toyota campus. With the proper PR - this could do them well in stationary FC power generation.

Ballard was doing well in the 90s and struggling the last 10 years, getting such a big installation is definitely good business, no matter who pays for it.

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