Ballard Power Systems signed a multi-year definitive agreement to support Azure Hydrogen’s (Azure’s) zero-emission fuel-cell bus program for the China market. Azure plans to partner with Chinese bus manufacturers in a phased development program for deployment of zero-emission fuel-cell buses in China, utilizing Ballard’s fuel-cell technology.

For the first phase of the program, Ballard has agreed to provide a license, associated equipment and engineering services to enable assembly of FCvelocity-HD7 bus power modules by Azure in China. As per the agreements, once this assembly capability is established, Azure will assemble modules with fuel-cell stacks to be supplied exclusively by Ballard.

The expected value of the contract to Ballard over the initial 12 months of the first phase will be approximately $11 million, related to the license for module assembly together with associated equipment and services. If Azure’s China bus program progresses as planned, the contract will generate value beyond the $11 million license revenue, commensurate with the volume of fuel-cell stacks to be ordered.

Azure plans to secure funding from Chinese sources, including both private investors and governments, to enable the development of fuel-cell bus fleets in China for initial public transit service by 2015.

FCvelocity-HD7 will be the next-generation of Ballard’s fuel-cell power module, designed specifically for integration into bus applications. The product reflects improved durability and reliability as well as a significant reduction in cost, according to the company. This key product development initiative has been supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, an arm of the Government of Canada that helps commercialize Canadian clean technologies, readying them for growth and export markets.