National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day (10.08) was created to help raise awareness of a clean energy technology that is here now. This product development highlights real-world applications for these solutions, today.
We’re celebrating all week – don’t miss our blog series about how Plug Power and its industry partners are changing the way the world moves.
Plug Power Targets Commercial Adoption through Hydrogen Infrastructure Innovation
By Tim Cortes, VP Hydrogen Energy Systems
For Plug Power to become the undeniable fuel cell technology leader, it’s taken significant dedication and innovation from all areas of the company. That effort has turned GenDrive fuel cells into a superior alternative to lead-acid batteries in forklift trucks and other industrial vehicles.
As little as five years ago, GenDrive customers were required to manage a significant construction project to make the conversion to a hydrogen enabled industrial truck fleet. This work to build out a hydrogen fueling station involved multiple parties and was a costly, inefficient and lengthy process.
But that’s the past.
Our R&D and product development teams have been focused on improving hydrogen fueling station technology and product options.
The first step Plug Power took to change that model was the development of GenFuel – its turnkey hydrogen fueling station solution, including hydrogen storage, dispensing and fuel products.
We’ve discussed GenFuel fueling station components in the past (here’s the blog, in case you missed it!). But, at the close of 2015 Plug Power’s CEO, Andy Marsh, challenged the engineering and manufacturing team to improve our hydrogen fueling system products, removing the challenges, shortening the lead time, and reducing the costs with hydrogen fueling station installation.
The team responded to this challenge by designing an integrated hydrogen fueling infrastructure “system” – in less than four months. Built at Plug Power headquarters in Latham, New York, the integrated fueling system enables the company to install a hydrogen fueling station at a new customer location in less time than before, and at a fraction of the cost.
The Plug Power integrated fueling system has taken many system elements (about 80 percent of critical components) that were field-assembled and integrated them into a single system assembly that is factory-tested prior to shipment. This allows for a repeatable, controlled, high quality build in a manufacturing environment.
While some of the installation time is dictated by a facility’s local authorities and associated permitting, completion time from the start of onsite construction has been reduced by approximately 25 percent and will continue to be reduced with the experience we gain as more systems are installed. This not only increases customer satisfaction, but significantly reduces costs as well.
With the development of this in-house integrated fueling system, Plug Power is now able to properly scale a hydrogen site for the customer’s demand. Smaller-truck fleets require less hydrogen – a cost-bottleneck that held up deals in the past. But now, Plug Power is able to streamline the hydrogen fueling station offering and attract customers who operate as little as 25 trucks – like FreezPak and Dietz and Watson. These advances in cost and flexibility will improve the ROI for our larger customers too, as well as enable new markets for hydrogen and fuel cells.
The integrated fueling system is a critical element of Plug Power’s GenFuel turnkey hydrogen fueling station solutions. It is a great example of the company’s continuing innovation as we seek to make hydrogen fuel cells the highest productivity, sustainable power solution for every warehouse and distribution center.
Looking forward, our team will continue to build upon this innovation by finding new ways to improve the performance and reduce the costs of delivering sustainable and economical hydrogen. This is a long term opportunity to expand our hydrogen fueling business and help enable large new markets in industrial, commercial and consumer motive power applications. #InfiniteDrive