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Amazon’s Colorado Fulfillment Center Implements 1 MW Electrolyzer to Power Hydrogen Fuel Cell Forklifts

by Anna

New York-based hydrogen technology developer, Plug Power, has successfully commissioned a 1 MW electrolyzer at an Amazon fulfillment center in Colorado, marking the e-commerce giant’s first on-site hydrogen supply expansion. The electrolyzer will generate low-carbon hydrogen to fuel over 225 fuel cell-propelled lift trucks, with potential support for up to 400.

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The innovative system, powered by solar panels and other renewables, allows the fulfillment center to produce hydrogen directly on-site. Traditionally, hydrogen for forklifts is produced elsewhere, then delivered to the facility. However, with Plug Power’s electrolyzer, the output is compressed on-site and stored in a gaseous hydrogen storage tank, providing a more efficient and sustainable solution.

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Amazon, in collaboration with Plug Power, has been actively working to decarbonize its operations, having previously replaced forklift batteries with over 17,000 fuel cells across numerous North American fulfillment centers. The new electrolyzer further aligns with Amazon’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.

While Amazon’s delivery fleet is increasingly electrified with Rivian electric vehicles, the adoption of fuel cells for heavy equipment in fulfillment centers offers unique advantages, including higher efficiency and reduced costs associated with lift truck operations. Plug Power asserts that its hydrogen fuel cells can increase vehicle range by over 150% compared to batteries, and they can be seamlessly integrated into existing battery spaces.

Plug Power’s electrolyzer technology, utilizing proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis, splits water into oxygen and hydrogen via electrolysis. The modular GenFuel systems can operate flexibly from sub-MW to 10 MW, producing up to 4,250 kilograms of on-site hydrogen daily.

The environmental sustainability of the hydrogen produced is emphasized, as it aligns with Amazon’s commitment to green energy. The hydrogen will be generated using electricity from solar panels and wind turbines, contributing to Amazon’s goal of 90% of electricity consumption being derived from renewable energy sources.

This deployment is part of a broader collaboration between Plug Power and Amazon, with the former agreeing to supply 10,950 tons of green hydrogen annually, starting in 2025, for Amazon’s transportation and building operations. The on-site electrolyzer model is anticipated to play a key role in supporting this expansion.

As Plug Power continues to ramp up electrolyzer and fuel cell production at its gigafactory in New York, this strategic move positions the company to meet the increasing demand for sustainable hydrogen solutions, with a growing pipeline of projects exceeding 7.5 GW.

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