June 2010

Walmart Canada to Use GenDrive Fuel Cells From Plug Power
(view article)

Hyundai-Kia's Fuel Cell Push
(view article)

Plans Are Done: Organizations Say It is Time for Action to End Oil Dependence
(view article)

360 State Street gets 'green' fuel cell
(view article)

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Power Wegmans Produce
(view article)

June 25th, 2010
(view original article)

Walmart Canada to Use GenDrive Fuel Cells From Plug Power

LATHAM, N.Y., Jun 22, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Plug Power Inc. , a leader in providing clean, reliable energy solutions, today announced that its GenDrive(TM) fuel cell units will power Walmart Canada's fleet of electric lift trucks at the company's sustainable refrigerated distribution center in Alberta, Canada.

The GenDrive systems will be integrated into trucks manufactured by Crown Equipment Corporation. Both perishable and freezer goods will be distributed in Walmart Canada's newly-built facility to support retail stores in Western Canada. The GenDrive freezer units will operate in conditions as low as -20 degrees F (-29 degrees C).

By utilizing GenDrive-powered lift trucks from the design stage, costs associated with installing, maintaining and operating traditional lead-acid battery systems are avoided. The decision to move forward with hydrogen-powered trucks and supporting infrastructure at the start allows for the possibility of future use at other existing sites.

In addition to lower operating costs, GenDrive allows for productivity increases, as material handling vehicles maintain maximum power and speed during an entire shift. Units can be refueled in less than two minutes, minimizing lost productivity.

Most importantly, the use of GenDrive hydrogen fuel cells provides companies with a power solution that aligns with environmental initiatives. With a possible greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction of up to 72%, compared to batteries charged from the grid, GenDrive supports a sustainable operation.

"Plug Power is thrilled our GenDrive fuel cell product is helping Walmart Canada's Alberta facility become one of the most energy-efficient distribution facilities of its kind in North America," said Plug Power's CEO, Andy Marsh. "Plug Power's complete product suite allowed Walmart to implement the GenDrive solution throughout its entire fleet. The commercial economics make sense and we believe customers see the benefits this progressive solution brings to its operations."

"Crown's substantial research and development of fuel cell forklifts are focused on designs and applications customized to our customers' unique requirements," said Jim Moran, senior vice president, Crown Equipment. "There are measurable benefits, such as cost savings and increased productivity, which can be achieved by using fuel cells in forklifts within certain applications. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Walmart in its efforts to realize these benefits in its Canada facility."

The systems are expected to begin shipping in June and will be operational at Walmart Canada in fall of 2010.

About Plug Power Inc.

The architects of modern fuel cell technology, Plug Power revolutionized the industry with cost-effective power solutions that increase productivity, lower operating costs and reduce carbon footprints. Long-standing relationships with industry leaders forged the path for our key accounts, including Wegmans, Whole Foods, and FedEx Freight. With more than 1,000 units in the field and over 1.5 million hours of runtime, Plug Power manufactures tomorrow's incumbent power solutions today.

June 17th, 2010
(view original article)

Hyundai-Kia's Fuel Cell Push

Korea’s largest automotive group, Hyundai-Kia, will begin low-volume production of at least one fuel cell model within the next two years.

It’s not yet known whether the car will be badged a Hyundai or a Kia, but it will definitely be a hydrogen-powered version of an existing model - not a fuel cell-only one like Honda’s FCX Clarity.

Byung Ki Ahn, general manager of Hyundai-Kia’s Fuel Cell Group, told Autocar, “There are already agreements between car makers such as ourselves and legislators in Europe, North America and Japan to build up to the mass production of fuel cell cars by 2015. Hydrogen production capacity and refuelling infrastructure will be improved.”

Hyundai intends to be at the vanguard of the move to hydrogen. “Pilot-scale production of 1000 fuel cell cars a year will begin for us in two years,” Ahn said. “Our first cars won’t be fully commercialised [they will probably be leased , not bought outright] but they will allow us to make the final stages of development progress before we begin commercial production of around 10,000 hydrogen cars a year in 2015.”

The key to the strength of Hyundai’s position on fuel cells is its own fuel cell stack, in development since 2005, which has been significantly improved over the past three years.

The Kia Borrego FCV, finished in 2008, has more than double the cruising range of the group’s 2006 Sportage FCEV, at 460 miles, and an operational life of about 10 years - more than three times that of the Sportage. It’s powered by a 115kW fuel cell stack, with 100kW of electrical assistance from a supercapacitor, and has a 700bar hydrogen tank.

“Our fuel cell stack can run at ambient atmospheric pressure, so we don’t need an air

compressor,” said Ahn, “and it contains less platinum, making it cheaper. Since 2004 we’ve eliminated 90 per cent of its typical material cost.”

Hyundai won’t divulge any target prices, but Ahn believes it has a strong chance of producing the cheapest hydrogen cars of the next decade.

“Toyota has a target to produce 50,000 fuel cell cars a year and expects to be able to price them at $50,000 [£35,000],” he said. “We’re confident we can beat it.”

June 16th, 2010
(view original article)

Plans Are Done: Organizations Say It is Time for Action to End Oil Dependence

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In his speech on the Gulf oil catastrophe tonight, President Obama can give the nation not only a message of hope, but also a concrete plan to cut the nation’s oil dependence dramatically, said fourteen national, regional and local organizations said today.

“The nation’s dependence on petroleum need not be permanent. The road to freedom from oil imports has already been mapped. The President can start our nation on the journey tonight,” the organizations said in a joint statement. “We don’t need more analysis – it has already been done. With the President’s leadership we can start implementing the solution immediately.”

“This transition will produce millions of American jobs, recapture hundreds of billions of dollars that now go offshore, rather than being invested in America and American jobs, and most importantly, make America and the world more secure,” they said. The organizations represent a wide spectrum of corporate, environmental and public interests.

“We are in a crisis. It is time to face it head-on with all the tools we have. Deployment plans by the National Academies of Science and by various private organizations show the way. The key remaining ingredient is a national will. The good news is that the U.S. can virtually eliminate use of petroleum in our passenger cars by 2050 with the right combination of policies, research and assistance to commercialize a portfolio of vehicle and fuel technologies. Efficiency, biofuels, natural gas, battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles all will make a contribution,” they said.

“We must set aside notions about any one ‘winning’ technology and focus on results, beginning now and sticking with the program for the long term. The future of the oil economy looks even worse than today’s grim reality. With American engineering skill and with committed and focused leadership from our government, we can, and indeed we must, build a clean energy economy,” the organizations said.

June 2nd, 2010
(view original article)

360 State Street gets 'green' fuel cell

New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - A 'green' fuel cell arrived at the 360 State Street tower construction project in New Haven Thursday.
The new fuel cell is 400 kilowatts features 'green technology' that will provide almost 100 percent of the building's energy needs. It marks the first time a fuel cell is being used in a residential building of this size.

"Fuel cells provide the energy trifecta; distribute generation, combined heat and power and homegrown innovation," said Bruce Becker one of the architects for the project.

The $3 million fuel cell was built by the United Technology Corporation and it will significantly reduce 360 State's so called 'carbon footprint.' "Just to appreciate this, it's sort of comparable to when we went from main frame computers to our PC's on our desktop," said Lisa Doni of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.

To get the project off the ground, 360 State received a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund among other funding sources. "This project incorporates a lot of 'green technology' compared to the grid," said Mike Brown of UTC Power. "This insulation would be equivalent to taking one hundred cars off the road or planting 178 acres of trees."

The architect of the building said Friday that the tragic oil spill in the Gulf is further proof of the importance of developing 'Green' power sources. If all goes as planned, the first 100 residential units at '360 state' will be ready for occupancy by August.

June 1st, 2010
(view original article)

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Power Wegmans Produce

CASS TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A Wegmans fresh-produce warehouse here in central Pennsylvania offers a glimpse of a long-touted fuel of the future.

Instead of traditional lead-acid batteries, the supermarket operator is using hydrogen fuel cells to power the electric forklifts and pallet trucks used to load trailers for deliveries of potatoes, strawberries, and mangoes to many of its stores, including the five in the Philadelphia area.

"They're great," said Wegmans employee Dave Kloos recently while pumping a pallet truck's suitcase-size fuel cell unit full of hydrogen from a hose, a process that takes about three minutes. "The hydrogen lasts twice as long as the battery charge. The weight doesn't bog it down," he said.

The things Kloos likes about hydrogen fuel cells were important factors in Wegmans Food Markets Inc.'s decision to adopt the fledgling technology, which is gaining popularity in distribution centers across the country, particularly in the green-conscious and high-turnover supermarket industry.

Fuel-cell-powered forklifts are part of a slow but steady move away from complete dependence on fossil fuels. UPS Inc. last week added 50 hybrid-electric delivery trucks to its Philadelphia fleet.

Wegmans, of Rochester, N.Y., was not motivated primarily by the desire to score green points with consumers, however. The main driver for the $6 million project was an effort to boost the amount of produce shipped through the facility near Pottsville from nine million cases last year to nearly double that this year, maintenance manager Dave Allar said.

Workers are now filling orders night and day, instead of just at night. That means pallet trucks get much more use, but they were limited by the need for lead-acid batteries to spend eight hours charging for an eight-hour shift. Plus, the batteries lose power over time, just as a flashlight beam grows weaker with use.

To meet its shipping goal, Allar said, Wegmans either had to buy more spare batteries and expand battery-charging capacity or make the leap to a new system for powering the pallet trucks, also called pallet jacks.

Despite the higher cost of the fuel cells, which list at $17,500 compared with $2,500 to $3,000 for lead-acid batteries, "we were still about 10 percent less in total capital costs over the life of the jack" - before counting government subsidies, Allar said.

Allar said he negotiated a substantially lower monthly service fee for the trucks, supplied by Lift Inc., of Lancaster. Using fuel cells also eliminated the need for an outside maintenance person to change the heavy batteries, clean them, and charge them.

The cost of the hydrogen - estimated at $4 to $5 per kilogram by an industry analyst - is more than electricity, but not by much, Allar said. The comparison was helped by a 30 percent increase in electricity prices this year, when rate caps expired, Allar said.

Wegmans, which employs more than 350 at the distribution center, also received subsidies: a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority toward the fueling system provided by Air Products & Chemicals Inc. and a 50 percent cost-share from the U.S. Department of Energy for the first 130 fuel cells it buys.

Like many other forms of alternative energy, hydrogen fuel cells, which create electricity through a chemical reaction, have long received government support.

The latest big push came when George W. Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address committed $1.2 billion over five years to speed research into hydrogen fuel cells.

But last year, the Obama administration tried to cut spending on hydrogen fuel cells to $68 million in fiscal 2010 from about $200 million in fiscal 2009 after deciding that they would not provide a practical solution any time soon. Congress restored much of the money.

David Friedman, research director for clean vehicles at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said treatment of fuel cells showed the chronic weakness of federal energy policy.

It has been a combination of "support for cheap fossil fuels and the silver-bullet philosophy," which involves "jumping from technology to technology, and when it doesn't save the world in five years, they call it a failure and move on," Friedman said.

Despite the hot-and-cold treatment by the White House, "fuel cells have made huge improvements over the last five years," Friedman said. The Energy Department recently estimated the manufacturing cost of a fuel cell at $45 per kilowatt, less than half the cost four years ago.

Niche markets, such as forklifts, are necessary and important to the advancement of fuel cells, because they can help bring the cost down, but they are "not going to be enough" to be a wedge that opens up bigger markets, such as cars, Friedman said.

As it is now, fuel cell manufacturers are still burning through cash. Plug Power Inc., of Latham, N.Y., the supplier of fuel cells for Wegmans, lost $41 million last year on just $12 million in revenue. Its shares closed at 42 cents on Nasdaq Friday.

Plug Power is the biggest supplier of fuel cells for forklifts, a potential $1.5 billion market, and is expected to be profitable in that segment this year, according to Peter Wright, an analyst with Tradition Equities in New York.

Robert McClellan, chief operating officer at Accurate Lift Truck Inc., of West Berlin, Camden County, which sells and leases forklifts from three locations, does not deal in fuel cells yet, but he expects to. "It's the wave of the future, more than likely," he said.

A barrier to the use of fuel cells in passenger cars - beyond their six-figure price tags - is the lack of enough fueling stations. With forklifts, that problem is eliminated because they circle back past the fuel pump anyway.

Allar, the Wegmans maintenance manager, is so pleased with the fuel cells that he would like to convert the forklifts and pallet trucks at a neighboring grocery distribution center to fuel cells earlier than planned.

As to a new building covering 11 acres that is scheduled to open in early 2012, "we're planning it without a battery charging room," Allar said.

Back to Top

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

© (H2) South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance. All Rights Reserved.