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I have some questions about Ballard Power. I wondered if you could either answer or refer me to a source.

Well, this is a whole new spin for this thread, but I'll give some quick answers.

First of all, check out the BLDP board:
http://boards.fool.com/messages.asp?id=1070008002315001

Start by reading the FAQ:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1070008001420000

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while.

1. How do they now, or plan to in the future, obtain the hydrogen and oxygen for the fuel cells? (Doesn't the engery expended in obtaining these fuels exceed the useful engery the fuel cells produce?)

Just like gasoline needs to be refined and produced today, so will other fuels for fuel cells. Just as with gasoline, energy will be spent to prepare the fuel. The same advantage holds: the fuel will then be storable and transportable. There are many plans out there for producing hydrogen (from water, from fossil fuels, from biomass). The FAQ covers this pretty well.

2. Ballard's press releases cite the "zero emission" benefit. Does this mean there is a "zero emission" factor at the site of use? Is there a pollution factor in the obtaining of the fuel at another site? How does the total operation of the current fuel cell system compare (in pollution) to fuel production and operation of internal combustion engines, diesel or gas?

The BLDP annual report covers a lot of this. If pure hyrdogen is used, there will be zero pollutants at the site of use. If methanol, there will be some, but drastically less than an ICE. The pollution from fuel preparation will depend on how the fuel is produced. (The FAQ also touches on this.) Solar and wind are popular choices to power the fuel production, in order to keep the process as green as possible.

Also, from an investment point of view: How does Ballard make sense when they don't appear to have any commerical products in the pipeline for a number of years?

First of all, there is no doubt that BLDP, or any other fuel cell stock, is a high risk investment. There are many many barriers in the way, and substantial ones at that. On the other hand, there are many many benefits in return, and substantial ones. Your questions are good, and are along the correct lines for someone interested in BLDP. Read the FAQ and a lot of them will be answered.

That said, they do actually have commercial products in the pipeline soon. In 2001, they plan to go to market in a partnership with Coleman, to sell portable generators. In 2002, they'll sell bus cells, and in 2003, car cells. These goals are listed in the annual report. BLDP has a fine history of meeting its goals, so I find them trustworthy right now.

I also consider them a long-term play. I "LTBH" some stocks with a target of 2-5 years. BLDP I have a target of over 10 years. If there is a big payout, it will likely take a long time to be realized. But the upside is worth the risk, in my personal situation.

Good luck, and have fun over at the Ballard board.

--WP


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