United States: Amazon to produce its own hydrogen to power its forklift trucks
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
25 January 2024 / 15:37

To power its fuel cell forklift trucks, Amazon has just purchased an electrolyzer from Plug Power. Further orders, aimed at greening its carbon footprint, are expected to follow.

Amazon is one step closer to adopting hydrogen power. Plug Power, a specialist in green hydrogen solutions, has completed the installation and commissioning of a first electrolyzer at the e-retailer's warehouse in Aurora, Colorado. The hydrogen produced will be compressed on site and stored in a gaseous hydrogen storage tank.

It will power 225 fuel cell forklifts, but according to Plug, this 1 MW electrolyzer is capable of handling up to 400 forklifts.

"Hydrogen is an important tool in our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality in our operations by 2040, and we're excited about the prospect of producing our own hydrogen at our facilities," said Asad Jafry, Global Director of Hydrogen Economy at Amazon.

 Avoid trucking in hydrogen

Plug, 23%-owned by Amazon, has already supplied more than 17,000 fuel cells to the online retail giant to power forklift trucks in over 80 distribution centers across North America.

Installing an electrolyzer on site will eliminate the need to transport hydrogen by truck, as is currently the case, not to mention the liquefaction stage prior to transport.

Plug and Amazon have identified the most suitable sites for electrolysers, "particularly in locations where surplus renewable electricity can be used to produce and store hydrogen on site".

But there's still a long way to go. For example, the Aurora site is served by the conventional electricity grid, which is currently 60% powered by fossil fuels, making it look very green! To meet this challenge, Amazon plans to integrate renewable energy resources at its sites, without committing to any specific date.

While waiting to produce its own energy, Amazon has set itself the goal of buying enough renewable energy on the market to cover its electricity consumption needs by 2025.

Hydrogen on a large scale

The adoption of hydrogen on a large scale, alongside electric LCVs, should enable Amazon to achieve its objectives, bearing in mind that the step is still a long one. The commitment to achieve zero carbon by 2040 dates back to 2019, but since that year its carbon footprint has grown by almost 40%, according to the company's latest sustainability report.

In Europe, Amazon is one of the first five companies to test the GenH2 fuel cell truck developed by Daimler.

This year, five trucks will be tested under real-life conditions in Wörth-am-Rhein (near Karlsruhe) and in the Duisburg region (near Düsseldorf). The GenH2 uses liquid hydrogen, giving it a claimed range of 1,000 km.

Grégoire Hamon

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