Fuel Cells Gain Momentum
Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 ( #818 ) – Washington, DC, United States
Growing sales are helping to bring attention to the range of benefits and markets fuel cells can serve, with high-profile corporations and utilities leading both new and repeat customers, according to The Business Case for Fuel Cells 2016: Delivering Sustainable Value, a new report from the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA).
Fuel cells offer a unique combination of benefits – clean, reliable, on-demand power generation; fuel flexibility with ability to utilise pure hydrogen, natural gas or renewable biogas; silent operation; and scalability – making them ideally suited for a range of applications, according to the report.
“Many of the world’s best-known companies and household brands trust fuel cell technology for reliable and affordable energy,” says FCHEA president Morry B. Markowitz. “Fuel cells enable a growing range of customers to not only achieve their environmental goals, but, more significantly, obtain economic and operational benefits that boost their bottom line as well. Fuel cells are here to stay because they offer the full package of clean, efficient power for business customers of all sizes.”
In addition to stationary and backup power, fuel cells are also competing and succeeding in the materials handling market, with companies finding value in improved operational efficiency and cost savings using fuel cells in forklifts and other vehicles over traditional battery-powered units.
The report details numerous case studies of fuel cell usage, including Home Depot and Walmart, which, between them, have 500 forklifts powered by fuel cells.
Home Depot is investing in fuel cells for materials handling and already has 175 fuel cell-powered forklifts operating at its giant facility in Troy Township, Ohio. The retailer is set to introduce another fleet of fuel cell forklifts at a Savannah, Georgia distribution centre.
The report mentions IKEA’s fleet of 20 fuel cell forklifts which have been in action since 2014 at its distribution centre in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France. The site also features a hydrogen station from Air Liquide to refuel the forklifts.
US retail chain Walmart, meanwhile, also uses Plug Power GenDrive fuel cells to power forklifts at 19 of its North American distribution centres. In aggregate, the company operates more than 3,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts at its sites, along with the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure to support these deployments.
The new report profiles dynamic market sectors where fuel cells are making an impact, including retail shopping; grocers, food and logistics; industrial and consumer products; technology and telecommunications; entertainment and sports; financial services; real estate; healthcare and biotechnology; hotels; transportation; and utilities.