A hydrogen fuel-cell-based emergency backup system has been developed by BC Hydro, a British Columbia electric company. Fuel cells are from Ballard Power Systems, Barnaby, B.C. The system is said to be environmentally friendly and to provide better longterm reliability and less maintenance than comparable battery and generator systems.

"This is the first field trial of our Nexa RM Series fuel-cell modules in British Columbia and we are excited to provide a backup power solution to the utility industry," says Dennis Campbell, Ballard president and CEO.

The Nexa Series has the potential to replace battery systems in as many as 500 applications within BC Hydro's operations and thousands of applications around the world. The Nexa RM Series consist of Ballard's proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and power modules with 1-kW outputs in ±24-Vdc increments for 19-in. rack mounting. Each rack holds up to six or eight 1-kW units and can be wired in series or parallel for higher power requirements. Ballard and BC Hydro are working with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to deploy further field tests with utilities in the U.S.