WASHINGTON – Walmart, Coca-Cola, Sysco, and Whole Foods are leading the pack when it comes to American companies using fuel cells in their business operations to advance their sustainability goals, save millions of dollars in electricity costs, and reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of metric tons per year.

The companies are just four out of 34 highlighted in the U.S. Energy Department’s “Business Case for Fuel Cells 2011,” which illustrates how fuel cell technologies are incorporated into business models. According to the report, in the last year, profiled companies used more than 250 fuel cells totaling 30+ MW of stationary power -- enough to supply electricity for over 21,000 households, according to the Energy Department. In addition, companies in the report purchased or deployed more than 240 fuel cells at telecommunication sites and more than 1,030 fuel cell-powered lift trucks.

Walmart, Coca-Cola, Sysco, and Whole Foods incorporate fuel cell technologies as such:

  • Walmart: 6.8 MW for CHP (17 stores) and 70+ forklifts.
  • Coca-Cola: 2.1 MW (4 locations) and 70+ forklifts.
  • Sysco Corporation: 600+ forklifts at several locations, 100 more on order.
  • Whole Foods Market: 1.2 MW (4 stores) and 60+ forklifts.

Many use fuel cells as a cost-saving alternative to power lift trucks in their warehouses and distribution centers. The Department’s analysis of fuel cell-powered lift trucks deployed via the Recovery Act concludes that fuel cells provide eight times lower refueling/recharging labor cost and two times lower net present value of total system cost compared to batteries.

In addition, Combined Heat and Power systems are another attractive application of fuel cell technologies. When fuel cells generate electricity they give off waste heat. In a combined heat and power system, the waste heat is captured for a wide variety of applications, including space heating and hot water.   

Additional information about how fuel cells are beneficially impacting these companies’ bottom lines while further promoting the use of clean energy technologies is available by viewing the report online.