Photo Credit: Toronto Star

Daryl Wilson is a man on the move. In the last eight months alone, the CEO of Toronto-based Hydrogenics has inked deals in Europe, the U.S. and China, as well as at home in Ontario.

Hydrogenics designs and manufactures hydrogen fuel cells that power buses, commuter trains – even small aircraft. As jurisdictions worldwide intensify their efforts to fight climate change, fuel cell technology is gaining traction because it’s totally clean. When hydrogen and oxygen are converted into electricity using a fuel cell, the by-product is water or steam.

This isn’t the first time hydrogen fuel cells have been touted as the answer to reducing emissions. In the late 1990s carmakers were predicting they would soon be mass producing zero emission automobiles powered by fuel cells. It didn’t happen.

But a lot has changed since then. The technology has advanced, and the cost has gone down.

Wilson is convinced that the technology’s time has come, particularly when it comes to mass transit. And with the number – and size – of deals Hydrogenics has been securing, he makes a powerful case.

A silver four-seater plane flying over fields powered by Hydrogenics fuel cell modules
The world’s first plane to run on hydrogen used two fuel cell modules manufactured by Hydrogenics

First-ever hydrogen fuel cell powered medium-duty delivery trucks

A brown and gold UPS light delivery truck parked on an urban street
The UPS light delivery truck is the first to be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which is manufactured by Hydrogenics
Photo Credit: UPS

Hydrogenics and UPS agreed to team up to deploy the first-ever hydrogen fuel cell powered medium-duty delivery trucks. They will be on the streets of Sacramento, California by the end of 2017.

In addition, the company signed a US $50 million contract to supply 1,000 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell motors for use on Chinese city buses, a deal Wilson sees as just the start of a long-term relationship with China.

And Hydrogenics’s fuel cells will power the world’s first zero-emission commuter train, which has successfully completed the pilot phase, and is set to go into service in Germany in late 2017.

“We are definitely benefiting a great deal from the push to de-carbonize energy and transportation systems,” Wilson says.

A sleek looking blue coloured train in motion
This German commuter train uses eight 35 kilowatt Hydrogenics fuel cell modules

Well positioned for global success from its base in Ontario

Hydrogenics was early to the fuel cell business – it got its start in Toronto in 1995 – and has been waiting for the world to catch on to the virtues of the technology.

“We solved the technical challenges a long time ago,” says Wilson. “Cost has been the issue, but the more fuel cells we sell, the more we’re able to lower costs.”

Although Hydrogenics has offices in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, the bulk of its staff is in Toronto and that’s where the company conducts its R&D as well.

“We were planted in Ontario and it’s been a great place for us to grow the business,” says Wilson. “It’s given us access to a steady pipeline of high quality engineers, which has been critical to our success.

“There are also superb university research centres doing advanced research in fuel cells and we collaborate with them, particularly the University of Waterloo, Queen’s and the University of Toronto.”

Both levels of government – federal and provincial – have also been helpful, particularly in recent years, in terms of financing, export support and that all-important procurement piece that enables companies like Hydrogenics to demonstrate to foreign buyers that its products are used domestically. Case in point: in April 2017, Hydrogenics was awarded government funding to build two hydrogen fueling stations in the Greater Toronto Area for fuel cell vehicles.

“There’s a stated commitment to carbon emission reduction, as set out in Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy, and that’s obviously good for us.”

Finally, Wilson says, Hydrogenics has benefited from the Canada brand.

“Canadian companies are respected abroad. We’re seen as honest, relationship builders, who deliver what we say we will.”

Sector/subsector: 

July 13, 2017

Feedback: Was this page useful?

Interested in doing business in Ontario?

Talk to a business consultant

Newsletter Sign Up


Form is for business purposes.

*All Fields Required




Sign up for our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Invest in Ontario.


Sign up now

Back to top