Amazon Uses Green Hydrogen in Operations to Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Published on: 26 August 2022
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Amazon announced a partnership with Plug Power to produce 10,950 tonnes of green hydrogen per year for its transportation and building activities beginning in 2025.

As it strives to decarbonise its operations, the company will use green hydrogen to replace grey hydrogen, diesel, and other fossil fuels, and this green hydrogen supply contract will offer enough annual power for 30,000 forklifts or 800 heavy-duty trucks used in long-haul transportation.

Kara Hurst, vice president of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon, said: 

"Amazon is proud to be an early adopter of green hydrogen given its potential to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors like long-haul trucking, steel manufacturing, aviation, and ocean shipping.

“We are relentless in our pursuit to meet our Climate Pledge commitment to be net-zero carbon across our operations by 2040, and believe that scaling the supply and demand for green hydrogen, such as through this agreement with Plug Power, will play a key role in helping us achieve our goals.”

Amazon continues to invest in several technologies as the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy since no single solution can entirely bridge the emissions gap to net-zero carbon. 

When it comes to hydrogen, the problem is that over 95% of the existing supply is derived from fossil fuels. Amazon wishes to assist in changing this. Large purchase agreements like this one help promote the expansion of green hydrogen, which is produced in a zero-carbon way using water and renewable energy.

Dean Fullerton, vice president of Global Engineering and Security Services at Amazon, said: 

“We already have more than 70 fulfilment centres outfitted with hydrogen storage and dispensing systems, which will allow us to start using green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels. Today, we use that system to power over 15,000 fuel-cell propelled forklifts, with plans to grow that number to 20,000 across 100 fulfilment centres by 2025. That’s just the start.

“Across Amazon’s operations, we’re exploring and testing the use of other hydrogen applications, such as fuel-cell electric trucks and fuel-cell power generation stations providing electricity to Amazon buildings.”

Forklifts are just one application for scaling hydrogen, and many more are in the pipeline. Through a combustion process, hydrogen can be used as a fuel similar to natural gas or diesel.

It can also be used in 'fuel cells,' that use hydrogen and oxygen to make energy with no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases at the point of use. However, additional hydrogen-powered equipment has to be commercially available to help power Amazon's operations and reach its net-zero commitment.

The company's green hydrogen supply deal not only reaffirms its commitment to urgent climate action but also signals to the industry the need to develop the hydrogen economy.

Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug, said: 

“Plug is fully committed to a green hydrogen future, and we are building a complete hydrogen ecosystem – from molecule to applications combined with a resilient network of green hydrogen plants around the world – to make hydrogen adoption easy for companies looking to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

“Securing this major green hydrogen supply deal with a customer like Amazon affirms our multi-year investment and strategic expansion into green hydrogen. We are honoured to help Amazon meet its ambitious sustainability goals and look forward to possibly expanding our relationship through the use of other hydrogen applications, such as fuel-cell electric trucks and fuel-cell power generation stations that could provide electricity to Amazon buildings and the deployment of electrolysers in fulfilment centres. "

Amazon recently announced that, in addition to the supply arrangement with Plug Power, it has invested in two companies researching electrolyzer technology to expand green hydrogen generation. 

The investment is part of Amazon's $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, which supports the development of sustainable technology and services.

Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, committing to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040—ten years before the Paris Agreement. 

More than 300 companies have signed the pledge, including Best Buy, IBM, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Siemens, Unilever, Verizon, and Visa. 

To achieve the target, it will continue to reduce emissions across its activities by implementing real-world decarbonisation strategies. 

The company is already on track to power its activities entirely with renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the initial 2030 plan. 

Amazon is also executing on its Shipment Zero objective of making all Amazon shipments carbon-neutral, with 50% carbon-neutral by 2030, by purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order of electric delivery vehicles ever placed.

Source: Amazon

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