The GenFuel Hub and Spoke model: Expanding the fuel cell market through hydrogen solutions

March 20, 2017

Since 2010, Plug Power has served customers in a market consisting of more than 10,000 distribution centers and manufacturing facilities in North America (NA), who meet the basic criteria in which Plug Power’s innovative hydrogen and fuel cell systems offer the most attractive customer business cases based on productivity improvement and operational savings. These criteria include

  • Work in multi-shift operations
  • Operate roughly 500,000 – 1 million square foot facilities
  • Perform multiple battery changes each day
  • Operate fleets with a minimum of 75-100 electric lift trucks

Plug Power was able to target customers like Walmart, P&G and BMW and give them a better way to power and fuel lift truck and automated guided vehicle (AGV) fleets, resulting in a more productive, cost effective and sustainable workforce.

Plug Power understood then, and has proven now, that hydrogen (as a product of its GenFuel line) is the key to expansion – and the company did not stop with just the large-scale North American market. Year by year, Plug Power has advanced the availability of commercially-viable hydrogen solutions to customers who vary from the above “criteria” (be it fleet size or operator use-case), in a very systematic and strategic way. And in doing this, the company has expanded the scale of its servable market around the world.

Hydrogen Solutions

Today, we’re going to discuss our newest addition to the GenFuel hydrogen product offering – the Hub and Spoke model, which Plug Power has deployed and customers are using commercially today. Using a fleet of high-pressure tube trailers, ranging in size from approximately 150 kg to 900 kg of compressed hydrogen at 6,000 psi, Plug Power has the ability to economically transport gas from one site to another. The parent site acts as the “hub” and the “spokes” are the satellite users.

The Hub & Spoke model in action

One of the first customers to adopt this model is FreezPak, a New Jersey cold-storage logistics operation. FreezPak has been using Plug Power’s small-scale hydrogen and fuel cell solution since 2015 in Carteret. In 2016, FreezPak expanded its use to a second facility in Paterson, using the hydrogen fueling station feed in Carteret.

Utilizing Plug Power’s Hub & Spoke architecture, FreezPak is able to transport fuel the 30-miles between sites, significantly reducing overall delivered hydrogen fuel and hydrogen fueling station costs for its satellite operation in Paterson. Additionally, Plug Power was able to deploy 9 GenDrive fuel cells at the new FreezPak site in record time.

Hydrogen Hub and Spoke

It’s a Win-Win Model

The “hub & spoke” model is important for customers because it allows adoption of productivity-enhancing fuel cell solutions at a value point that makes sense for smaller scale fleets and operations. With this system, the Plug Power team is able to distribute hydrogen in a local geographic region, from a specific generation or supply point, to outlying users based on site density and use. This model is positive for Plug Power and the customer as it provides delivered hydrogen fuel to satellite locations at a reduced cost point and allows customers to monetize their hydrogen infrastructure over several local facilities. Yet more #InfiniteDrive.