Sacramento Meeting Indicates Increasing Interest in Hydrogen Fuel Cells,
Plug Power Among Those Showing that the Technology Can Be Viable Today
Interest in hydrogen fuel cells as the power source for electric vehicles is on the increase, as evidenced by attendance last week at the California Hydrogen Business Council’s annual meeting in Sacramento.
The meeting drew more than 150 people, up from previous recent gatherings that notched only 50 to 70 attendees, says CHBC assistant director Emanuel Wagner.
Honda and Toyota were gold-level sponsors, as were the fuel cell specialists Hydrogenics and Plug Power.
Plug Power president and CEO Andy Marsh was a CHBC keynoter. Plug Power has helped establish hydrogen fuel cell power as a commercial option for industrial vehicle like fork lifts, he said, with more than 4,000 GenDrive brand units shipped to two dozen customers at 44 sites, mostly in the food distribution, retail and manufacturing sectors.
GenDrive Boasts a Big-Name Clientele
Plug Power customers include Ace Hardware, Associated Wholesale Grocers, BMW, Bridgestone/Firestone, Carter’s, Coca-Cola, Kroger, Lowe’s, Mercedes-Benz, Procter & Gamble, Stihl, Sysco and Walmart.
Plug Power has been successful in improving reliability while lowering the costs of both its GenDrive units and the hydrogen needed to fuel them, Marsh said, in part by devising and commercializing new methods of onsite hydrogen generation with partners like Air Liquide and Nuvera.
Plug Power is branching into new markets too, using fuel cells to power truck refrigeration units (F&F, August 28). Airport GSE (ground support equipment) is another potential market, as is range extension for battery electric parcel delivery trucks (an application Plug Power wants to develop with FedEx and Smith Electric Vehicles in Southern California).
“The promise of the autos us much closer than it’s ever been,” Marsh told F&F just prior to his CHBC appearance.
CHBC at ACT Expo?
CHBC has meanwhile made Sacramento conference presentations available to attendees, and is working on making them available to other interested persons as well, says assistant director Emanuel Wagner.
Wagner also told F&F that CHBC is talking with organizers of the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo slated for Southern California this spring about ways to step up the presence of hydrogen on both the ACT Expo conference agenda and in the exhibit hall.
Possibilities include the scheduling of CHBC’s spring meeting in conjunction with ACT Expo, which runs May 5-8 at the Long Beach Convention Center. ACT Expo organizer (and Fleets & Fuels publisher) Gladstein, Neandross & Associates is accepting abstracts for ACT Expo presentations until November 29 (F&F, October 3).
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview, CHBC and Plug Power