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Plug Power's green hydrogen venture powers Amazon's Colorado site
Fri, 29th Dec 2023

A significant milestone has been reached by Plug Power, an international provider of extensive hydrogen solutions for the green hydrogen economy.

According to a statement from the company, Plug Power has acheived a successful installation and commission of an electrolyzer system at an Amazon fulfilment centre in Aurora, Colorado.

Known as a one-megawatt (MW) proton exchange membrane electrolyzer, the system has the distinction of being Amazon's initial investment in this technology. The electrolyzer generates low-carbon hydrogen, and this is now powering over 225 hydrogen fuel cell-driven forklift trucks at 'DEN8', as the site is known.

The 'Plug 1MW' electrolyzer has the capacity to produce enough hydrogen to provide eco-friendly fuel for up to 400 forklift trucks. Taking electricity and water as its only inputs, the system compresses the hydrogen it creates onsite, before storing it in a specialised tank. From here, it's readily available to be used to keep the forklift trucks operational.

Plug CEO Andy Marsh, highlighting the significance of the achievement, noted, "In Amazon, we have a true partner that recognizes the essential role hydrogen plays in our collective energy future. 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."

The relationship between Plug and Amazon has already resulted in the deployment of more than 17,000 fuel cells. These have replaced traditional batteries in forklifts at over 80 Amazon fulfilment centres in North America. In most cases, the necessary hydrogen is produced at offsite locations, then supplied to a storage and dispensing system at the Amazon site in a liquefied state.

With this new installation, the companies have showcased an innovative step forward. Namely, using surplus renewable electricity produced at the site to generate and store hydrogen locally. This cuts out the need to liquefy and transport the hydrogen, thereby avoiding the associated carbon emissions. It’s a model particularly suited to locations where renewable energy production consistently outstrips demand.

Asad Jafry, Director of Global Hydrogen Economy at Amazon, commented on the strategic importance of the project. "Hydrogen is an important tool in our efforts to decarbonise 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," he stated. "On-site production will make the use of hydrogen even more energy efficient for certain locations and types of facilities."

For this landmark project, Plug contributed a wide range of services, from initial design through to installation and ongoing maintenance, for the 1MW PEM electrolyzer and the integrated hydrogen storage system. Importantly, the new electrolyzer has been designed to be fully compatible with the refuelling infrastructure and fuel cells already in use at the site. This is the first time that an electrolyzer system of this kind has been installed and brought online in an Amazon site.