Amazon starts to produce hydrogen on site to power forklifts

  • Plug Power, a green hydrogen solutions provider, has completed the installation and commissioning of an electrolyser system at an Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado.
  • The one-megawatt (MW) proton exchange membrane electrolyser is the first for Amazon and is producing low-carbon hydrogen to fuel more than 225 hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklift trucks at the site, known as DEN8.

The Plug 1MW electrolyser, which uses electricity and water to produce hydrogen, is able to support up to 400 hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklift trucks. The hydrogen produced by the electrolyzer will be compressed on site and stored in a gaseous hydrogen storage tank for use by the forklift trucks.

“In Amazon, we have a true partner that recognizes the essential role hydrogen plays in our collective energy future,” said Plug CEO Andy Marsh. “This project demonstrates Plug’s ability to execute across the full hydrogen value chain, and shows how we can design and implement end-to-end solutions for our customers.”

To date, Plug has collaborated with Amazon to deploy more than 17,000 fuel cells to replace batteries in forklifts in more than 80 fulfillment centers in North America. For most of these locations, hydrogen to power the forklifts is produced elsewhere, liquified, and delivered by trucks to an on-site storage and dispensing system.

Plug recognized an opportunity—particularly in locations where more renewable electricity is generated than the site needs at a given time—to use that surplus electricity to produce and store hydrogen on site. This model also avoids the emissions typically generated in liquifying and transporting hydrogen from one site to another.

“Hydrogen is an important tool in our efforts to decarbonize our operations by 2040 in support of The Climate Pledge, and we’re excited about our ability to produce hydrogen at Amazon facilities through this partnership with Plug,” said Asad Jafry, the director of global hydrogen economy at Amazon. “On-site production will make the use of hydrogen even more energy efficient for certain locations and types of facilities.”

For this project, Plug provided design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance services for the 1MW PEM electrolyzer and hydrogen storage—compatible with the existing refueling infrastructure and fuel cells already in use at the site. This is the first electrolyzer system installed and in use at an Amazon site.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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