Fuel cell forklifts like the one shown here are used by leading companies across the U.S. as part of their daily business operations. | Energy Department file photo.

What do WalMart, Coca-Cola, Sysco, and Whole Foods have in common?
They’re leading the pack when it comes to hydrogen and fuel cells.
The Energy Department’s "Business Case for Fuel Cells 2011" report illustrates how top American companies are using fuel cells in their business operations to advance their sustainability goals, save millions of dollars in electricity costs, and reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of metric tons per year.
The report profiles 34 companies and highlights how they incorporate fuel cell technologies into their business models. According to the report, in the last year, profiled companies used more than 250 fuel cells totaling 30+ MW of stationary power -- enough to supply electricity for over 21,000 households. In addition, companies in the report purchased or deployed more than 240 fuel cells at telecommunication sites and more than 1,030 fuel cell-powered lift trucks.
Walmart, Coca-Cola, Sysco, and Whole Foods are leading the pack:
·      Walmart -- 6.8 MW for CHP (17 stores) and 70+ forklifts
·      Coca-Cola -- 2.1 MW (4 locations) and 70+ forklifts
·      Sysco Corporation -- 600+ forklifts at several locations, one hundred more on order
·      Whole Foods Market -- 1.2 MW (4 stores) and 60+ forklifts
So how do these companies deploy fuel cell technologies in their daily operations? Many use fuel cells as a cost-saving alternative to power lift trucks in their warehouses and distribution centers. The Department’s analysis of fuel cell-powered lift trucks deployed via the Recovery Act concludes that fuel cells provide eight times lower refueling/recharging labor cost and two times lower net present value of total system cost compared to batteries.

In addition, Combined Heat and Power systems are another attractive application of fuel cell technologies. When fuel cells generate electricity they give off waste heat. In a combined heat and power system, the waste heat is captured for a wide variety of applications, including space heating and hot water.   

You can read more about how fuel cells are beneficially impacting these companies’ bottom line while further promoting the use of clean energy technologies by checking out the report.

Sunita Satyapal
Sunita Satyapal is the Director of EERE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
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