Plug Power says hydrogen production systems, called on-site reformers, allow its GenDrive fuel cells to provide cost-effective power for smaller forklift truck fleets.
On-site reformer systems convert natural gas to hydrogen on customer premises, which decreases fuel infrastructure costs and makes hydrogen power more viable. To power their fuel cell vehicles, customers have two hydrogen supply options: install a hydrogen storage system that dispenses delivered compressed hydrogen, or install a reformer infrastructure on-site that generates, compresses, stores and dispenses hydrogen.
Plug Power initially focused GenDrive sales efforts on large distribution centers for fleets averaging 100 forklift trucks.
Now, with cost-efficient on-site hydrogen production proving to be a viable option, Plug Power is able to broaden its reach and supply fuel cells to customer sites with fleet sizes as small as 20 forklift trucks. This capability could lead to a 40 percent expansion in the company’s addressable market, and expand Plug Power’s North America market size by more than $1 billion, the company says.
Already, GenDrive units are being ordered by customers who will be generating hydrogen on-site. One such Plug Power customer, Ace Hardware, will deploy 65 GenDrive units to power its lift truck fleet at its newest retail support center in Wilmer, Texas, when it is completed in 2014. Ace Hardware will be using an on-site hydrogen generation and refueling solution provided by Nuvera Fuel Cells. On-site generation of hydrogen will allow Ace to eliminate most of the upfront costs of bringing hydrogen to the site.