Walmart, Coke Lead in Fuel Cell Systems

Walmart, Coca-Cola, Sysco and Whole Foods are leading the charge of companies deploying fuel cells for stationary power, back-up power and forklifts, according to a study by non-profit group Fuel Cells 2000.

The Business Case for Fuel Cells 2011: Energizing America's Top Companies says that Walmart now has 6.8 MW of fuel cell power at 17 stores, plus over 70 fuel cell-based forklifts. Coca-Cola has 2.1 MW of stationary fuel cells at four locations and 72 forklifts at two bottling facilities.

Meanwhile, Sysco has over 500 forklifts with hundreds more on order. And Whole Foods has over 60 forklifts, plus 1.2 MW of fuel cell power at four grocery stores.

Fuel Cells 2000 said that in little over a year, 34 corporate customers have installed, deployed or purchased more than 250 fuel cell power systems and hundreds of backup power units, totaling more than 30 MW of power, plus more than 1,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts.

NBCUniversal, Kroger and Kaiser Permanente have all started buying fuel cells recently, Fuel Cells 2000 says. Other companies using the technology include Adobe, AT&T, Bank of America, BMW, Cox Enterprises, CVS Caremark, Diversey, Google, Kimberly-Clark, Price Chopper, Staples, Stop & Shop, Supervalu, Time Warner Cable and T-Mobile.

According to the study, a 400 kW UTC Power fuel cell at a San Diego Albertsons is estimated to prevent 478 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, while one at a Whole Foods in Fairfield, Conn., provides 90 percent of the store's power while creating thermal energy for store heating, cooling and refrigeration. This will prevent the release of more than 847 metric tons of CO2 annually, the store estimates.

Fuel Cells 2000 says it has identified 24 new companies using the technology since its last report in 2010.

A July report by Pike Research ranked FuelCell Energy as the most competitive fuel cell manufacturer, with UTC coming second.