Amazon plans to make its own hydrogen to power vehicles


Amazon plans to make its own hydrogen to power vehicles -Gudstory

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Amazon plans to produce hydrogen fuel at its fulfillment centers. The retail giant partnered with hydrogen company Plug Power to install the first electrolyzer – equipment that can split water molecules to produce hydrogen – in a fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado.

The electrolyzer will make fuel for about 225 fork lift trucks at the site, although Plug says it has the capacity to fuel up to 400 hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts. This is the first time Amazon has tried to make its own hydrogen on site, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

“On-site production will make the use of hydrogen even more energy efficient for certain locations and types of facilities,” Asad Jafari, Amazon’s director of global hydrogen economy, said in a press release announcing the installation of the first electrolyzer yesterday. ” “Hydrogen is a vital tool in our efforts to decarbonize our operations by 2040.”

Potential environmental benefits are still hard to measure

Hydrogen is considered a clean-burning alternative to fossil fuels, which is why Amazon is using it in its warehouses. But the potential environmental benefits are still hard to measure, and will largely depend on how policymakers and companies like Amazon shape the supply chain for hydrogen.

Hydrogen produces water vapor instead of greenhouse gas emissions during combustion, a quality that has made it more attractive to companies and governments working to meet climate goals. The big problem they have to deal with is cleaning up the process of making hydrogen in the first place. Today, much of it is made using fossil fuels, primarily through the reaction between steam and methane. This process releases carbon dioxide that warms the planet. Methane leaks are another problem because methane – also known as natural gas – is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

Since 2016, Plug has distributed approximately 17,000 fuel cells for forklifts to more than 80 fulfillment centers in North America. However, most of the hydrogen for those fuel cells is made elsewhere, and Plug delivers it via truck to warehouses.

Producing hydrogen on site could eliminate tailpipe pollution from transporting the fuel by truck. But right now, there are still greenhouse gas emissions associated with making hydrogen at a Colorado fulfillment center. Why? Electrolyzers are plugged into the power grid, and fossil fuels still make up about 60 percent of the U.S. electricity mix.

To make truly green hydrogen, Amazon will have to ensure that its new electrolyzer runs on renewable energy. According to Jafari, the company is considering connecting it with renewable energy generated at the site, but there is no concrete timeline for when that will happen.

The e-commerce giant aims to purchase enough renewable energy to equal the electricity usage of its operations by 2025. It also committed in 2019 to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, though the company’s most recent sustainability report shows its carbon footprint has actually increased by nearly 39 percent since then.


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