BLDP: Ballard Power Systems Analysis and Research Report
2018-08-13 - by Asif , Contributing Analyst - 742 views
At Ballard, Ballard Power Systems is building a clean energy growth company. Ballard Power Systems is recognized as a world leader in proton exchange membrane (“PEM”) fuel cell power system development and commercialization. The company's principal business is the design, development, manufacture, sale and service of PEM fuel cell products for a variety of applications, focusing on its power product markets of Heavy-Duty Motive (consisting of bus, truck, rail and marine applications), Portable Power, Material Handling and Backup Power, as well as the delivery of Technology Solutions, including engineering services, technology transfer, and the license and sale of its extensive intellectual property portfolio and fundamental knowledge for a variety of fuel cell applications.
A fuel cell is an environmentally clean electrochemical device that combines hydrogen fuel with oxygen (from the air) to produce electricity. The hydrogen fuel can be obtained from natural gas, kerosene, methanol or other hydrocarbon fuels, or from water through electrolysis. Ballard’s clean-energy fuel cell products feature high fuel efficiency, relatively low operating temperature, low noise and vibration, compact size, quick response to changes in electrical demand, and modular design. Embedded in each Ballard fuel cell product lies a stack of unit cells designed with its proprietary PEM technology which draws on intellectual property from its patent portfolio together with its extensive experience and know-how in key areas of fuel cell stack design, operation, production processes and systems integration.
Ballard Power Systems is based in Canada, with head office, research and development, testing, manufacturing and service facilities in Burnaby, British Columbia. The company also have a sales, manufacturing, research and development facility in Southborough, Massachusetts, and have a sales, assembly, service and research and development facility in Hobro, Denmark. The company also have an office in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, China. This office serves as the Company’s initial operations center in China, with China management, sales and business development, technical, quality, supply chain, after-sales and administrative support personnel. The company also have a service center based in Yunfu, China.
The company plan to build value for its shareholders by developing, manufacturing, selling and servicing industry-leading PEM fuel cell products to meet the needs of its customers in select target markets.
Ballard Power Systems is pursuing a corporate strategy and business model that mitigates risk by diversifying its business across a portfolio of market opportunities that are enabled by substantially the same core competencies, technology, products and intellectual property. The company's business model is designed to include two growth platforms (power products and technology solutions), multiple markets within each of these platforms, geographic diversification and customer diversification.
Ballard Power Systems is also pursuing a strategy that provides it with the opportunity for near-term commercialization, revenue and profitability, while also enabling significant future value based on longer-term market opportunities for its technology, products and intellectual property, such as the global automotive fuel cell market and the unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”) or drone market.
The company's two-pronged approach is to build shareholder value through the sale and service of power products and the delivery of technology solutions. In power product sales, its focus is on meeting the power needs of its customers by delivering high value, high reliability, high quality and innovative clean energy power products that reduce customer costs and risks. Through technology solutions, its focus is on enabling its customers to solve their technical and business challenges and accelerate their fuel cell programs by delivering customized, high value, bundled technology solutions, including specialized engineering services, access to its deep intellectual property portfolio and know-how through licensing or sale, and providing technology component supply.
Starting in 2015, the company increased its efforts on growing its business in China. China represents a potentially unique opportunity for clean energy solutions, given the convergence of macro trends that include:
- continued urbanization of China’s population;
- continued infrastructure development and build-out of mass urban transportation;
- the large size and continued growth of the Chinese vehicle market;
- rapid adoption of electric vehicles in China;
- serious air quality challenges in a number of Chinese cities;
- a Chinese government mandate to address climate change; and
- strong national and local government commitment supporting the adoption and commercialization of fuel cells in transportation applications, including the implementation of supporting subsidy programs.
Ballard Power Systems has been pursuing a strategy that includes the development of a local fuel cell supply chain and related ecosystem to address the new-energy bus and commercial vehicle markets in China. As part of its strategy, Ballard Power Systems is pursuing technology transfer and licensing opportunities with Chinese partners in order to localize the manufacture of Ballard-designed fuel cell modules and stacks for heavy-duty motive applications in China, including bus, commercial vehicles and light-rail train applications. Key elements of its strategy include adopting a business model in which the company seek to mitigate market adoption risk and capital investment by engaging partnerships with local companies that market its products and invest in manufacturing operations and supply chain localization. The company typically seek to structure its arrangements in a way that provide it with payments from its partners of significant value for technology transfer early in the transfer process, requirements for ongoing purchases by its partners of components from it, and requirements for its partners to comply with certain performance conditions and reporting requirements, including quality, branding, intellectual property and minimum payments. The company believe these typical deal structures provide for near-, mid- and long-term revenue and cash flow streams by building in program phases, technology transfer payments, license payments, required supply purchases, and recurring royalty structures. The company also typically structure its commercial deals in China to restrict sales to that country and to position Ballard as the exclusive purchaser of modules or stacks manufactured by its partners in China for sale outside of China. The company believe this structure provides it with additional flexibility in satisfying global market demand for its modules and stacks by supplementing or mitigating its mid- and long-term manufacturing strategy.
The company also structure its business model in China to protect its core intellectual property. For example, the company currently do not provide technology transfer and licensing relating to the manufacture of its proprietary membrane electrode assemblies (“MEAs”), a key high value technology component in its fuel cell stacks. The company currently plan to continue to manufacture its MEAs in its head office facilities in Burnaby, Canada. Also, the company typically restrict technology transfer and licenses to current generation technology and products. The company continue to make significant investment in next generation products and technology, including modules and systems integration, stacks, and MEAs. The company strive to reserve flexibility on how the company introduce these next generation products to the markets, including to China.
2017 Performance compared to 2017 Business Outlook
Although the company did not provide specific financial performance guidance for 2017, the company did indicate that the company expected growth in product revenues in 2017, as compared to 2016, supported by increased activity in Heavy-Duty Motive, due primarily to increased sales to customers in China. The company also indicated that the company expected Technology Solutions to account for a larger proportion of total revenue in 2017, supported by work related to contracts in China as well as engineering services work with various partners in the automotive, rail, military, and UAV sectors. The company subsequently forecast lower Portable Power product revenues in 2017 as a result of the delay in obtaining Program of Record (“Milestone C”) status with the U.S. Army (which was received in September 2017, later than initially forecast) for certain of its Portable Power products including its Squad Power Manager (SPM-622).
Actual revenues in 2017 of $121.3 million increased 42%, or $36.0 million, compared to 2016. As expected, overall revenue growth in 2017 was driven by growth in its Heavy-Duty Motive and Technology Solutions markets, partially offset by lower Portable Power revenues. Heavy-Duty Motive revenues in 2017 of $63.7 million increased 140%, or $37.2 million, from 2016; Technology Solutions revenues in 2017 of $43.7 million increased 47%, or $14.0 million from 2016; whereas Portable Power revenues in 2017 of $4.5 million declined (61%), or ($7.0) million, from 2016.
2018 Business Outlook
Given the early stage of the hydrogen fuel cell market development and adoption rate, and consistent with its approach in 2017, Ballard Power Systems is not providing specific financial performance guidance for 2018.
Global trends toward decarbonization, improving air quality and the electrification of propulsion systems have underpinned a growing interest in fuel cell electric vehicles (“FCEVs”) for heavy and medium duty applications, including buses, commercial truck, rail and marine markets. Industry activity levels are increasing in China, Europe and the United States, including relating to demonstration programs and commercial deployments.
Looking to 2020, the Company expects strong growth in FCEV demonstration programs and commercial scaling in certain heavy and medium duty applications in China, Europe and North America. With continued investment in talent, technology, products, customer engagement and its brand, the company expect Ballard to have a leading market position.
In 2018, Ballard will continue to pursue a corporate strategy and business model that mitigates risk by diversifying its business across a portfolio of market opportunities that are enabled by substantially the same core competencies, technology, products and intellectual property.
As noted in the Strategic Imperatives section above, the company increased its efforts on growing its business in China starting in 2015 given that China represents a potentially unique opportunity for clean energy solutions.
In China, Ballard has been pursuing a strategy that includes the development of a local fuel cell supply chain and related ecosystem to address the zero emission bus and commercial vehicle markets. As part of its strategy, Ballard Power Systems is pursuing technology transfer and licensing opportunities with Chinese partners in order to localize the manufacture of Ballard-designed fuel cell stacks and modules for heavy-duty motive applications in China, including bus, commercial vehicles and light-rail train applications. The company believe this strategy aligns with expected local content requirements for government subsidies supporting the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles. Key elements of its strategy include adopting a business model in which the company seek to mitigate market adoption risk and capital investment by engaging in partnerships with local companies that market its products and invest in manufacturing operations and supply chain localization. The company also structure its business model in China to protect its core intellectual property.
The Company accomplished important progress in 2017 with the localization of stack and module assembly operations in China. In particular, the Company supported its stack joint venture in Guangdong Province, Guangdong Synergy Ballard Hydrogen Power Co., Ltd. (“Synergy JVCo”), on various aspects of the set-up and commission of the operations line, including the design, construction and layout of the production facility and related infrastructure; manufacturing and test equipment specification, procurement, delivery, installation, validation and optimization; management and staffing of the joint venture; quality processes; supplier and materials procurement and qualification; pilot production; and production scaling. This project contributed significant revenue and gross margin in 2017, which will not be duplicated in 2018 as the company now transition to a supplier relationship with the joint venture based on a take-or-pay supply agreement for the supply by Ballard of MEAs.
In 2017, the company also supported Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. (“Broad-Ocean”) with technology transfer services relating to the set-up and commissioning of an initial module assembly line in Shanghai. In parallel to these technology transfer and module assembly line commissioning activities, the company also supplied Broad-Ocean with module and components supply for 600 modules to support initial FCEV demonstration programs in key Chinese markets. This program contributed significant revenue and gross margin in 2017, which will not be duplicated in 2018 as the company transition to a business model where Broad-Ocean assembles Ballard-designed modules and sources stacks from Synergy JVCo while also paying royalties to Ballard on assembled modules.
As a result of the localization of stack and module production in China that supported strong revenue growth in 2017, the Company expects field deployments of FCEVs to begin scaling in 2018, subject to anticipated parallel scaling of hydrogen refueling infrastructure and service infrastructure. In 2018, with completion of these localization activities, the company expect the China revenue mix to shift from the sale of modules towards MEA component sales and royalties from the sale of locally-assembled modules. With this transition in business model, combined with the absence of the one-time revenue related to the technology transfer activities and module sales in 2017, Ballard expects year-on-year revenue from China to be lower in 2018. However, beyond 2018, the company expect to generate increasing revenue from MEA sales, royalties and future Technology Solutions opportunities as a result of increasing demand for FCEV engines in a range of applications.
In Europe, the Company expects increased market activity in 2018 for fuel cell electric buses, commercial trucks, train and marine. The Company also expects new contract awards for FCEVs under certain European programs, which the company expect to result in growth in purchase orders for its fuel cell modules.
In the United States, the Company expects increased 2018 market activity relating to fuel cell electric buses and commercial trucks. The Company also expects new contract awards for FCEVs in California, which the company expect to lead to growth in purchase orders for its fuel cell modules.
The Company expects growth in revenues from its Protonex subsidiary in 2018. The company believe obtaining the Program of Record “Milestone C” status with the U.S. Army in September 2017 for certain of its Portable Power products will support sales growth in 2018. While the company believe the recent passage of the U.S. federal budget with a significant increase in planned military budget spending is a positive development for its Protonex business, it is currently uncertain whether this will impact its 2018 results.
Given Plug Power’s continued movement since 2016 towards internally-manufactured and sourced stacks for their fuel cell systems integrated into forklifts, the company expect this trend to continue with a further decline in its sales of stacks in Material Handling to Plug Power in 2018. The company expect increased activities in this market segment with other partners in its Technology Solutions business.
Technology Solutions revenue is expected to be relatively flat in 2018 given the significant contribution made in 2017 from the technology transfer projects in China that will not be duplicated in 2018. This decline however is expected to be largely offset by increases in engineering services activities for existing and new customers, including in the automotive, rail, material handling and unmanned aerial vehicle sectors, including the Company’s HyMotion program with the Volkswagen Group.
In summary, given the relatively early stage of development in some of its markets, the length and uncertainty of timing in contract award and program deliveries in 2018, together with the significant one-time contributions from key projects in 2017, the company expect revenue to be relatively flat in 2018, coincident with a strengthening of the underlying business mix for long-term growth prospects. The 2018 revenue outlook is supported by a solid foundation to start the year with a 12-month Order Book of approximately $73 million at the 2017 year end. Since year end, Ballard Power Systems has added additional orders of approximately $18 million, such that the company now have total committed orders of approximately $91 million expected for delivery in 2018, together with a robust pipeline of qualified commercial sales opportunities.
The company's outlook for 2018 is based on its internal forecast which reflects an assessment of overall business conditions and takes into account actual sales and financial results in the first two months of 2018; sales orders received for units and services expected to be delivered in the remainder of 2018; an estimate with respect to the generation of new sales and the timing of deliveries in each of its markets for the balance of 2018; and assumes an average U.S. dollar exchange rate of approximately $0.80 in relation to the Canadian dollar for the remainder of 2018.
The primary risk factors to its business outlook expectations for 2018 are customer or production delays in delivering against existing orders and delays from forecast in terms of closing and delivering expected sales primarily in its Heavy-Duty Motive and Portable Power markets; adverse macro-economic conditions, changes in government subsidy and incentive programs; inadequate investment in hydrogen infrastructure and / or excessive hydrogen fuel costs, all of which could negatively impact its Chinese customers’ access to capital and the success of their program plans which could adversely impact its Heavy-Duty market; disruptions in its Heavy-Duty market due to delays of supply of key materials and components from third party suppliers; disruptions in its Technology Solutions market as a result of its reliance on a single customer in this market and that customer’s internal commercialization plans and budget requirements; disruptions in its Portable Power market as a result of U.S. defense spending volatility and potential defense procurement or acquisition process changes; disruptions in the Material Handling market as a result of its reliance on a single customer in this market and that customer’s internal stack development and commercialization plans; and fluctuations in the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, as a significant portion of its Technology Solutions revenues (including the technology development and engineering services agreement with Volkswagen) are priced in Canadian dollars.
As noted above, the above outlook for 2018 is supported by its December 31, 2017 12-month Order Book of approximately $73 million which is derived from its Order Backlog of approximately $221 million as of December 31, 2017, as well as by incremental contract bookings in January and February 2018. The company's Order Backlog represents the estimated aggregate value of orders for which customers have made contractual commitments and its 12-month Order Book represents the aggregate expected value of that portion of the Order Backlog that the Company expects to deliver in the subsequent 12-month period.
The company's Order Backlog and its 12-month Order Book are currently comprised of a relatively limited number of contracts and a relatively limited number of customers, including its MEA supply agreement with Synergy JVCo. Given the relative immaturity of its industry and customer deployment programs, its Order Backlog and 12-month Order Book are potentially vulnerable to risk of cancellation, deferral or non-performance by its customers for a variety of reasons including: risks related to customer liquidity; credit risks; risks related to changes, reductions or eliminations in government policies, subsidies and incentives; risks related to slower market adoption; risks related to vehicle integration challenges; risks related to the development of effective hydrogen refueling infrastructure; risks related to the ability of its products to meet evolving market requirements; and supplier-related risks.
Furthermore, potential fluctuations in its financial results make financial forecasting difficult. The Company's revenues, cash flows and other operating results can vary significantly from quarter to quarter. Sales and margins may be lower than anticipated due to general economic conditions, market-related factors, operating factors and competitive factors. Cash receipts may also vary from quarter to quarter due to the timing of cash collections from customers. As a result, quarter-to-quarter comparisons of revenues, cash flows and other operating results may not be meaningful; instead, the company believe its operating performance should be assessed over a number of quarters and years. In addition, due to the early stage of development of the market for hydrogen fuel cell products, it is difficult to accurately predict future revenues, cash flows or results of operations on a quarterly basis. It is likely that in one or more future quarters, financial results will fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. If this occurs, the trading price of the Company's shares may be materially and adversely affected.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS (Including Contractual Updates)
Shanghai Reinventing Fire Technology Company Limited
On February 13, 2018, the company announced the planned deployment of 500 licensed fuel cell electric commercial trucks - all using Ballard fuel cell stack technology - in Shanghai, China. Each of the 500 Dongfeng Special Vehicle trucks is now licensed, plated and powered by a 30 kilowatt fuel cell engine that was designed and integrated by Shanghai Reinventing Fire Technology Company Limited (“Re-Fire”), featuring Ballard FCvelocity®-9SSL proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks. Ballard and Re-Fire have entered into a collaboration agreement under which Re-Fire has agreed to use Ballard-designed fuel cell stacks in its fuel cell engines. Ballard’s FCvelocity®-9SSL stacks are now being manufactured and are available from Synergy JVCo, Ballard’s joint venture in Yunfu, Guangdong Province.
Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd.
On December 6, 2017, the company announced that a subsidiary of strategic partner Broad-Ocean called Shanghai Edrive Co. Ltd. ("Shanghai Edrive") has commissioned its fuel cell engine manufacturing facility located in the City of Shanghai, China. Shanghai Edrive plans to primarily assemble Ballard FCveloCity® 30-kilowatt (kW) fuel cell engines at the facility under a technology transfer, licensing and supply arrangement between Ballard and Broad-Ocean that closed earlier in 2017. Broad-Ocean also plans to assemble Ballard-designed engines in Hubei and Shandong Provinces.
On June 5, 2017, the company announced the closing of an approximate $18 million supply contract with Broad-Ocean to support the expected deployment of 400 FCveloCity® fuel cell engines integrated into clean energy buses and trucks in key Chinese cities. This announcement, together with an approximate $11 million transaction announced on April 6, 2017 for the planned deployment of 200 FCveloCity® fuel cell engines, means that Ballard is supporting Broad-Ocean through the expected deployment of 600 fuel cell engines having a total value of approximately $29 million. All 600 fuel cell engines and related components were delivered by Ballard in 2017. Revenue earned from these agreements ($20.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $28.7 million in fiscal 2017), which are now complete, is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On April 6, 2017, the company also announced the closing of a transaction (the “Broad-Ocean Program”) previously announced on February 16, 2017, relating to technology transfer, licensing and supply arrangements with Broad-Ocean for the assembly and sale of FCveloCity® 30-kilowatt (kW) and 85kW fuel cell engines in China and received an initial payment of $3.6 million. Under the Broad-Ocean Program, Broad-Ocean plans to manufacture fuel cell modules in three strategic regions in China, including Shanghai. The Broad-Ocean Program is dependent on the attainment of certain commissioning milestones and if met, has an estimated value of approximately $25 million in revenue to Ballard over the initial 5-year term, including approximately $12 million in Technology Solutions revenue plus future royalties and the supply of test equipment. In each of the three assembly operation locations, Broad-Ocean plans to engage with local governments as well as with bus and commercial vehicle OEMs for deployment of fuel cell buses and commercial vehicles incorporating Ballard-designed modules manufactured by Broad-Ocean. Ballard will have the exclusive right to purchase fuel cell engines from any of the Broad-Ocean manufacturing operations for sale outside China. Each Ballard-designed fuel cell engine assembled by Broad-Ocean is required to utilize FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks. Stack supply is expected to be transferred to Synergy JVCo, since Synergy JVCo became operational in late-2017. Ballard will be the exclusive supplier of MEAs for stacks manufactured by Synergy JVCo. Revenue earned from these Broad-Ocean technology transfer agreements ($0.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $2.0 million in fiscal 2017) is recorded as Technology Solutions revenues.
On August 18, 2016, Broad-Ocean became Ballard’s largest shareholder following an investment made through a subscription and purchase of 17.25 million Ballard common shares issued from treasury for total proceeds to Ballard of $28.3 million. The investment represented approximately 9.9% of Ballard’s outstanding common shares following the transaction. Broad-Ocean and Ballard also entered into an Investor Rights Agreement under which Broad-Ocean has agreed to a two-year hold period (expiring on July 25, 2018) on the 17.25 million Ballard common shares that it has purchased in the financing; has provided Ballard with a right of first refusal to sell to Broad-Ocean additional treasury shares if Broad-Ocean wishes to increase its ownership position up to 20%; and has agreed to certain "standstill" provisions effective for a two-year period under which Broad-Ocean will not purchase more than 19.9% of Ballard's outstanding common shares without receiving Ballard board approval. Ballard granted Broad-Ocean certain anti-dilution rights to maintain its 9.9% ownership interest. Finally, Broad-Ocean has no special right to appoint nominees to Ballard's board of directors.
Guangdong Synergy Ballard Hydrogen Power Co., Ltd.
On September 5, 2017, a ceremonial opening event was held at the company’s FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stack joint venture operation in the city of Yunfu, in China’s Guangdong Province. Ballard has a 10% interest in the joint venture - called Synergy JVCo - together with its partner Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd. (a member of the “Synergy Group”). The fuel cell stacks manufactured by Synergy JVCo are expected to be used primarily in fuel cell engines assembled in China to provide propulsion power for zero-emission fuel cell electric buses and commercial vehicles in China. Synergy JVCo operation is currently ramping to an estimated annualized production capacity of approximately 6,000 fuel cell stacks by late 2017 and is designed to achieve an annualized production capacity of approximately 20,000 fuel cell stacks, based on 3 shifts running 5-days per week. Since becoming operational in September 2017, Synergy JVCo has produced more than 1,000 stacks in 2017, including 558 stacks manufactured in December.
The joint venture transaction and related sales agreements, which closed on October 25, 2016 and originally announced on July 18, 2016, have a contemplated minimum sales value to Ballard of approximately $170 million over 5-years. The transaction includes these key elements:
- Ballard is expected to receive approximately $20 million for technology transfer services, test equipment, production equipment specification and procurement services, training and commissioning support in relation to the establishment of a production line in Yunfu for the manufacture and assembly of FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks. Revenue earned from these technology transfer agreements ($1.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $16.0 million in fiscal 2017; $4.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and in fiscal 2016), which are now effectively complete, is recorded as Technology Solutions revenues; and
- Ballard’s exclusive supply of membrane electrode assemblies (“MEA”s), a key component of every fuel cell, for each fuel cell stack manufactured by Synergy JVCo, with minimum annual MEA volume commitments on a “take or pay” value of at least $150 million over the initial 5-year term from 2017 to 2021. Revenue earned from the MEA supply agreement ($4.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $14.9 million in fiscal 2017; nil in fiscal 2016) is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
Synergy JVCo has an exclusive right to manufacture and sell FCvelocity®-9SSL stacks in China. Exclusivity is subject to Synergy JVCo achieving certain performance criteria, including compliance with: a code of ethics; Ballard’s quality policies and branding practices; payment terms; and certain intellectual property covenants; as well as achievement of the minimum annual “take or pay” MEA volumes. Ballard will have the exclusive right to purchase FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks and sub-components from Synergy JVCo for sale outside China.
Ballard contributed approximately $1.0 million for its 10% interest in Synergy JVCo in 2017. Ballard Power Systems has no obligation to provide future funding to Synergy JVCo. Ballard’s CEO serves as one of the three members of the Synergy JVCo board of directors. Ballard has veto rights over certain key Synergy JVCo decisions, including the appointment of certain key management, appointment of auditors, and Synergy JVCo’s pricing and branding policies.
Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd.
On July 11, 2016, the company announced the signing of definitive agreement with the Synergy Group for a Technology Solutions transaction to enable Synergy Group to exclusively manufacture and sell Ballard's direct hydrogen FCgen®-H2PM fuel cell backup power systems in China. Under the agreement, Ballard licensed the designs of its 1.7 and 5 kilowatt FCgen®-H2PM systems to Synergy Group for manufacture in the City of Yunfu in Guangdong Province and for exclusive sales in China. Synergy Group prepaid Ballard an upfront Technology Solutions fee of $2.5 million in the second quarter of 2016 for the license and related technology transfer services. Synergy Group is required to make additional license royalty payments to Ballard for each FCgen®-H2PM system that it manufactures and sells, subject to annual minimums starting in 2018. Ballard will also be the exclusive supplier of air-cooled fuel cell stacks to Synergy Group for use in the FCgen®-H2PM systems that it produces and sells. Revenue earned from this technology transfer agreement ($0.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $0.7 million in fiscal 2017; $0.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $1.3 million in fiscal 2016) is recorded as Technology Solutions revenues whereas revenue earned from sales of fuel cell stacks is recorded as Backup Power revenues.
On January 21, 2016, the company announced the signing of an equipment supply agreement, valued at $12 million, with Synergy Group to provide FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks for range extension applications in commercial vehicles in China. Ballard delivered the stacks in 2016 and 2017. Synergy Group was expected to collaborate with Dongfeng Xiangyangtouring Car Co., Ltd. (“DFAC”), which is part of Dongfeng Motor Corporation, a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer headquartered in Wuhan. Revenue earned from this agreement (nil in the fourth quarter of 2017; $4.1 million in fiscal 2017; $2.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $7.9 million in fiscal 2016), which are now complete, is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On September 25, 2015, the company announced the signing of a long-term license and supply agreement with Synergy Group to provide fuel cell power products and technology solutions in support of the planned deployment of approximately 300 fuel cell-powered buses in the cities of Foshan and Yunfu, China. The agreement has an estimated initial value of approximately $17 million with the opportunity for recurring royalties starting in 2017. The agreement includes the supply and sale of fully-assembled 30kW to 85kW fuel cell power modules, ready-to-assemble module kits, a technology license for localization of assembly, supply of proprietary fuel cell stacks and long-term recurring royalties leveraged to unit volumes of locally assembled modules. Revenue earned from this agreement ($0.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $0.7 million in fiscal 2017; $6.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $13.7 million in fiscal 2016; $2.9 million in fiscal 2015), which are now effectively complete (except for any future royalty payments), is recorded as either Heavy-Duty Motive or Technology Solutions revenues depending on the nature of work performed.
China - Other
On January 24, 2017, the company announced the signing of an initial Equipment Sales Agreement with Zhuhai Yinlong Energy Group (“Yinlong”), a major Chinese manufacturer of battery electric buses, for 10 FCveloCity®-MD 30-kilowatt fuel cell engines. Ballard delivered the engines in 2017 for expected integration into Yinlong buses. Revenue earned from this agreement (nil in the fourth quarter of 2017; $0.7 million in fiscal 2017), which is now complete, is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On November 1, 2015, the company announced that the signing of a definitive agreement with Tangshan Railway Vehicle Company, Limited (“TRC”) for the development of a new fuel cell module that will be designed to meet the requirements of tram or Modern Ground Rail Transit Equipment applications. This agreement, with a value of approximately $3 million, contemplates that TRC trams will use next-generation Ballard fuel cell power modules designed specifically for the Modern Ground Rail Transit Equipment application. The purpose-designed product is expected to deliver at least 200 kilowatts of power. Revenue earned from this agreement (nil in the fourth quarter of 2017; $0.2 million in fiscal 2017; $0.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $2.0 million in fiscal 2016; $0.5 million in fiscal 2015), which is effectively complete, is recorded as Technology Solutions revenue.
On September 28, 2015, the company announced the signing of a joint development agreement and a supply agreement to develop and commercialize a fuel cell engine specifically designed for integration into low floor trams manufactured by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Company, Ltd. (“CRRC Sifang”), a Chinese rolling stock manufacturer. The agreements include delivery of ten customized FCvelocity® modules and have an initial expected value of approximately $6 million. Ballard has developed a new prototype configuration of its FCvelocity® fuel cell module to deliver 200 kilowatts of net power for use in powering trams in urban deployments. An initial deployment of eight fuel cell-powered trams is planned by CRRC Sifang and the City of Foshan on the Gaoming Line. With delays in the construction of the Gaoming Line, deployment of these trams is now expected to occur starting in 2019. Revenue earned from these agreements (nil in the fourth quarter of 2017; $3.1 million fiscal 2017; $0.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $0.9 million in fiscal 2016) is recorded as either Heavy-Duty Motive or Technology Solutions revenues depending on the nature of work performed.
On February 28, 2018, the company announced the receipt of a Letter of Intent (“LOI”) from Van Hool NV (“Van Hool”), a bus OEM partner in Belgium, for 40 FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell engines to power buses under the Joint Initiative For Hydrogen Vehicles Across Europe (“JIVE”) funding program. These buses are expected to be the first fuel cell bus deployments supported under JIVE I. The 40 buses will be powered by Ballard FCveloCity®-HD 85 kilowatt fuel cell engines, which Ballard expects to receive a purchase order for and to begin shipping in the second half of 2018. Van Hool plans to deploy 30 of these buses with the Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH transit agency in the city of Cologne, Germany, and plans to deploy the remaining 10 buses with WSW mobil GmbH transit agency in Wuppertal, Germany, with deliveries expected to begin in 2019.
On November 14, 2017, the company announced the signing of a Development Agreement with Siemens AG (“Siemens”) for the development of a zero-emission fuel cell engine to power Siemens’ Mireo light rail train. The Development Agreement has a contemplated value of approximately $9.0 million to Ballard. Under the terms of the Development Agreement, Ballard will develop a 200 kilowatt fuel cell engine for integration into Siemens’ new Mireo train platform. Initial deployments of the fuel cell-powered Mireo train are planned for 2021. Revenue earned from this agreement ($0.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 and in fiscal 2017) is recorded as Technology Solutions revenue.
On September 13, 2017, the company announced the acceptance of a Letter of Intent to provide FCveloCity®-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell engines to power 8 ExquiCity tram-buses to be built by Van Hool for delivery in Pau, France to the SMTU-PPP (Syndicat Mixte de Transports urbains - Pau Portes des Pyrénées) and the STAP (Société de Transport de l’Agglomération Paloise). These will be the first hydrogen bus routes in France and the world’s first hydrogen tram-buses for a full BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system. Ballard expects to deliver the 8 fuel cell engines to Van Hool during 2018.
On January 10, 2017, the company announced that the company had purchased all of the shares in the Company’s European subsidiary held by Dansk Industri Invest A/S (previously Dantherm Air Handling A/S). As a result, Ballard now owns 100% of the Company’s subsidiary in Europe, Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S (formerly Dantherm Power A/S). Ballard held 57% of the shares in Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S before purchasing the remaining 43% of shares from Dansk Industri Invest A/S on January 5th, 2017. For a nominal payment, Ballard acquired the remaining shares and obtained the cancellation of debt owed by Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S to Dansk Industri Invest A/S of approximately $0.5 million.
On November 29, 2016, the company announced the signing of a Long-Term Sales Agreement (“LTSA”) with Solaris Bus & Coach (“Solaris”), a bus OEM headquartered in Poland, for the sale and supply of fuel cell modules to support deployment of Solaris fuel cell buses in Europe. An initial order was placed under the LTSA for 10 FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell modules, which have now been fully delivered. Revenue earned from this initial agreement ($0.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $2.5 million in fiscal 2017; $0.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and fiscal 2016), which is now complete, is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On July 22, 2015, the company announced the signing of an agreement to provide a 1 megawatt (1MW) ClearGen™ fuel cell distributed generation system for Hydrogène de France (“HDF”) which will be deployed at an Akzo Nobel sodium chlorate chemical plant in Ambres near Bordeaux, France. The program agreement is structured in two phases. Under the first phase, completed in 2016, Ballard received an initial payment of €1.7 million to undertake engineering services and core component development work. Under the second phase, targeted for completion in early 2018, Ballard received an additional €1.6 million in February 2017 for onsite assembly and commissioning. Revenue earned from this agreement ($0.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $1.6 million in fiscal 2017; $0.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $1.0 million in fiscal 2016; $0.8 million in fiscal 2015) is recorded as Technology Solutions revenue.
On March 6, 2013, the company entered into a technology development and engineering services agreement with Volkswagen to advance development of fuel cells for use in powering demonstration cars in Volkswagen’s fuel cell automotive research program. The initial contract term was 4-years commencing in March 2013, with an option by Volkswagen for a 2-year extension. On the closing of the Volkswagen IP Agreement in February 2015, this technology development and engineering services was extended 2-years to February 2019. This technology development and engineering services contract is focused on the design and manufacture of next-generation fuel cell stacks for use in Volkswagen’s fuel cell demonstration car program. Volkswagen also retains an option to further extend this program by 2-years to February 2021. Revenue earned from this and related agreements ($5.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $18.0 million fiscal 2017; $4.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $13.9 million in fiscal 2016) is recorded as Technology Solutions revenues.
Protonex Technology Corporation
On January 30, 2018, the company announced that the Company's subsidiary, Protonex Technology Corporation (“Protonex”), has received a $1.6 million purchase order for the supply of Squad Power Manager (SPM-622) Special Operations Kits for end customer U.S. Special Operations Command. The purchase order was the first issued by the Program Executive Office (PEO) - Soldier, as part of the newly approved program of record, with Milestone C approval having been received in 2017.
On January 3, 2018, the company announced that as a result of its strategic review in 2017 of its Protonex subsidiary, the company implemented certain changes at Protonex including the divestiture of certain non-core assets. This action is in addition to steps taken in August 2017 to reduce and align the Protonex cost base. Together, these actions are expected to yield annualized cost savings of $2.6 million. In the fourth quarter of 2017, it was determined that certain of Protonex’ Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (“SOFC”) assets were not core to Ballard’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell business, and the Company decided to divest these non-core assets. As a result, certain SOFC assets were transferred to a private, start-up company, Upstart Power Inc. (“Upstart”), effective December 31, 2017, for nominal consideration. Initially, 10 Protonex employees have moved to Upstart, with an additional 6 employees expected to be transferred later in 2018 on completion of certain Technology Solutions contracts. As part of this transfer of employees, Dr. Paul Osenar, previously President of Protonex has moved to Upstart as CEO. The company's understanding is that Dr. Osenar and other former Protonex employees who have moved to Upstart are also security-holders of Upstart. This action has enabled Ballard to significantly reduce the cost structure at Protonex. No restructuring expense was incurred as a result of this transaction. During the fourth quarter of 2017, the company recorded a loss on sale of assets of ($0.5) million related primarily to the sale of SOFC inventory to Upstart. The company also recorded impairment losses of ($1.5) million in the fourth quarter of 2017 related to a write-down of certain SOFC intangible assets and property, plant and equipment.
On September 24, 2017, the company announced that the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier (PEO-Soldier) has received signature approval for its Mobile Soldier Power Program of Record to full rate production status, commonly known as “Milestone C”. This Program of Record includes a number of new devices focused on improving power and energy management on and around the soldier, including Protonex’ Squad Power Manager Kit (SPM-622), conformal wearable batteries, and man-worn power and data distribution devices. The Milestone C designation now enables the U.S. Army to field the SPM-622 as part of the Mobile Soldier Power Program of Record in higher volume. This announcement follows an announcement made on January 19, 2017 whereby the company announced that Protonex received certification from the U.S. Government enabling its SPM-622 and its Vest Power Manager Kit (VPM-402) products to be exported under the Commerce Department’s Export Administration Regulations, classification EAR99. With this classification, these products can be sold to allied military partners as well as commercial customers without the need for an export license.
North America - Other
On July 18, 2017, the company announced that the company received an order from SunLine Transit Agency ("SunLine") for five (5) FCveloCity® fuel cell engines to power clean energy buses in Palm Desert, California. All five 150 kilowatt engines were delivered in 2017. Ballard is partnering with ElDorado National, a key North American bus OEM, and BAE Systems, a system integrator and major supplier of electric drive systems, to deliver buses to SunLine. SunLine received funding from the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) to purchase and deploy 5 hydrogen electric fuel cell buses. Revenue earned from this agreement (nil million in the fourth quarter of 2017; $2.1 million in fiscal 2017), which is now effectively complete, is recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On February 13, 2017, the company announced the Company's membership in the "Fuel Cell Electric Bus Commercialization Consortium" (FCEBCC), a large-scale project for which funding has now been committed to support deployment of 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses at two California transit agencies. Ten buses are to be deployed with Alameda Contra-Costa Transit District (AC Transit) and 10 buses are to be deployed with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). Ballard will be providing 20 of its FCveloCity®-HD 85-kilowatt fuel cell engines to New Flyer of America Inc., a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc. ("New Flyer"), the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer and parts distributor in North America. Ballard's engines will power New Flyer 40-foot Xcelsior XHE40 fuel cell buses, which are planned to be delivered and in-service with AC Transit and OCTA starting in late 2018. The buses are to be supported by advanced hydrogen fueling infrastructure provided by The Linde Group. Revenue earned from this agreement (nil to date) will be recorded as Heavy-Duty Motive revenues.
On February 21, 2018, the company announced the receipt of a follow-on purchase order from Nisshinbo Holdings (“Nisshinbo”) to progress a Technology Solutions program to the next stage that was initially announced on September 17, 2017. On September 17, 2017, the company received a purchase order from Nisshinbo to engage in a multi-year Technology Solutions program to assess the potential development of fuel cell stacks using a Non Precious Metal Catalyst (“NPMC”) for use in commercial material handling applications. With successful completion of this initial assessment, this next stage will focus on certain performance and power density enhancements to support development of low cost NPMC-based fuel cell stacks again for material handling applications.
This follows an announcement made on September 12, 2017 whereby Nisshinbo and Ballard announced that the company had successfully collaborated on development of the world’s first NPMC-based proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell product - the FCgen®-1040 - which is a new 30-watt air-cooled fuel cell stack incorporating NPMC expected to launch in late-2017 with possible uses in ultralight-weight applications such as laptop and cell phone chargers, and military soldier power devices. The NPMC is an innovative technology enabling a reduction in product cost through the use of significantly lower amounts of platinum.
Nisshinbo has been a strategic supplier of compression molded bipolar flow field carbon plates to Ballard for over 20 years. In November 2015, Nisshinbo also became a strategic equity investor in Ballard.
On February 14, 2018, the company announced that the signing of a Technology Solutions program with an unnamed strategic customer to develop a next generation air-cooled fuel cell stack. The multi-year program has an initial value to Ballard of approximately $4.2 million. A key objective of the Technology Solutions program is to design and validate an ultra-high durability, high performance air-cooled fuel cell stack for uses in a number of target market applications, including certain material handling applications, with a target operating lifetime of 20,000 hours. A key market opportunity will be the integration of the next generation stacks into fuel cell systems for class 3 lift trucks, such as pallet jacks, deployed in high throughput distribution centers and warehouse operations. Other potential applications include systems for stationary continuous and backup power.
During the second quarter of 2016, the company completed the sale of certain of its methanol Telecom Backup Power business assets to Chung-Hsin Electric & Machinery Manufacturing Corporation (“CHEM”), a Taiwanese power equipment company, for a purchase price of up to $6.1 million of which $3 million was paid to it on closing (the “CHEM Transaction”). The remaining potential purchase price of up to $3.1 million consisted of an earn-out arising from sales of methanol Telecom Backup Power systems by CHEM during the 18-month period to November 2017 derived from the sales pipeline transferred to CHEM on closing. During the second quarter of 2016, the company recorded a loss on sale of assets of ($0.4) million after estimating the fair value of the remaining potential purchase price of up to $3.1 million to approximate $1.8 million. During the second quarter of 2017, the company recorded an additional loss on sale of assets of ($0.8) million as the remaining potential purchase price was written down to its revised estimated fair value of $1.0 million from the previous estimate of $1.8 million. During the third quarter of 2017, the company recorded an additional loss on sale of assets of ($0.1) million as the remaining potential purchase price was written down to its further revised estimated fair value of $0.95 million (which was fully collected in the fourth quarter of 2017) from the previous estimate of $1.0 million. On the closing of this transaction, CHEM received certain assets related to the methanol Telecom Backup Power line of its business including intellectual property rights, and physical assets such as inventory and related product brands. The company also transferred to CHEM a number of its engineering, sales, and service employees involved in this business. Ballard continues to retain the Company's direct hydrogen fuel cell backup power system assets, primarily in its Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S subsidiary located in Denmark. The direct hydrogen fuel cell backup power system has since been rebranded FCgen®-H2PM. As noted above, certain designs of the FCgen®-H2PM system were exclusively licensed to Synergy Group for manufacture and sale in China. In the CHEM Transaction, the company also signed a fuel cell stack supply agreement with CHEM which included minimum sales of $2 million over an 18-month period (now completed). Revenue earned under the fuel cell stack supply agreement with CHEM (nil in the fourth quarter of 2017; $0.3 million in fiscal 2017; $0.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2016; $1.7 million in fiscal 2016; $2.0 million to date), which is now complete, is recorded as Backup Power revenues.