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Whole Foods Market plans to begin using 61 fuel cell-powered forklifts supplied by Plug Power and GENCO Supply Chain Solutions in natural and organic foods retailer’s Landover, Md., distribution center.
The funding for the fuel cells is part of a $6.1 million award made to Pittsburgh-based GENCO in April 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Alliance Material Handling, a Maryland-based Crown lift truck supplier, will supply the forklifts for the site. The fleet will consist of 45 class-3 pallet jack and 16 class-2 standup reach trucks, all powered by Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cells. The decision to move from lead-acid batteries was facilitated by the opportunity to improve the grocer’s productivity in its Maryland operations, while also achieving environmental and economic benefits.
“Whole Foods Market is committed to healthy food and a healthy planet,” said Joe Strong, facility team leader at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “We are fulfilling that commitment by choosing to use greener technology in our own operations that will improve our productivity and lower our long-term costs.”
GenDrive fuel cell units were designed to provide customers with increased economic value through productivity increases, as well as to allow customers to reduce their carbon footprint by lowering the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the use and charging of lead-acid batteries in material-handling equipment. According to Plug Power, conversion to GenDrive fuel cell power units and green hydrogen can reduce material-handling fleet GHG emissions up to 80 percent on-site, which is roughly the equivalent of removing two passenger vehicles from the road per year for each forklift truck powered by fuel cells.
Latham, N.Y.-based Plug Power develops and deploys clean energy solutions, and integrates fuel cell technology into motive and continuous-power products.