The Future of Fuel Cells
As a former financial journalist, I know that many of the biggest and most important stories are overlooked at first. What’s happening with fuel cell technology is no exception.
For example, most warehouse forklifts use 36-volt and 24-volt lead-acid batteries. These can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, and can weigh anywhere from 800 pounds to 2 tons. Because a forklift uses up its battery’s power once or twice each shift, e-commerce warehouses are forced to maintain large “battery-changing rooms” and staffs of “battery changers.”
According to an industry trade journal, one large distribution center logged more than 115,000 battery changes on its forklifts over the span of a year.
Needless to say, the costs of these batteries really add up. This is where fuel cell technology comes into play…
The Future of Energy
Fuel cells produce electricity using a chemical process, with hydrogen gas as fuel. Besides power, the only byproduct is water. Fuel cell batteries take only three minutes to recharge, deliver full power until their energy is used up and save the space that is needed for “battery-charging rooms.”
Despite the futuristic sound of this technology, it is already making its first strides in the realm of fuel cell forklifts…
Companies — like Amazon and Walmart — have each invested around $600 million to retrofit forklifts. Retrofitting basically means dropping a fuel cell into the forklift’s “battery box” and hooking up a few wires. The process is simple and will only continue to change the game.
A Growing Industry
Though the number of fuel cell forklifts is small in the grand scheme of things, it has grown 350% in the last five years. But Amazon and Walmart aren’t the only ones investing in this technology…
San Francisco and Scotland are using fuel cells for passenger ferries. Germany has two electric passenger trains powered by onboard fuel cells. Toyota plans to produce 20,000 fuel cell EVs by next year. And China — perhaps the most prominent player in the fuel cell sector — is committed to having 1 million fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2030.
You do not want to miss out on this disruptive trend as it flies under the radar. Fuel cells are the future.
Jeff L. Yastine
Editor, Total Wealth Insider