SCHUMER ANNOUNCES $2.5 MILLION DEPT. OF ENERGY AWARD FOR PLUG POWER IN THE CAPITAL REGION
BRBRPlug Power Has Received Federal Award to Deliver Fuel Cell Technology to FedEx Airports to Develop Clean EnergyBRBRCritical DOE Award Will Help Capital Region Business Retrofit 15 Tow Tractors With Hydrogen Powered Fuel CellsBRBRSchumer: DOE Award Boost Capital Region Tradition as Fuel Cell HubBRBR
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that Plug Power in Latham, NY will receive a $2,500,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy to retrofit 15 electric tow tractors with hydrogenpowered fuel cells, which will be deployed at two of FedEx's domestic airports in Memphis, Tennessee, and Oakland, California. Both sites, which are known for their high volume of traffic, will utilize lowcost natural gas as the feedstock to produce hydrogen. The first phase will consist of developing, building, and testing the fuel cell system for this application. The subsequent deployment and data collection phase will last for two years and include analysis of the economic and environmental benefits of fuel cell powered GSE.
"This significant federal award means that Plug Power can continue to help the Capital Region secure its place as an international hub for fuel cell research and development," said Schumer. "Plug Power will not only further the research of fuel cell energy with their project that will retrofit 15 electric tow tractors, this company will also put this innovative technology to practical use as they help FedEx achieve its goal of become a greener company. I applaud the federal government for rewarding Plug Power's innovation, which is both energyefficient and costeffective."
This funding, part of the Department's commitment to U.S. leadership in advanced fuel cell research and development, will help industry bring advanced fuel cell technologies into emerging markets and provide air transportation businesses and airports with new choices for GSE and operations that cut energy costs, air pollution, and petroleum use. Accelerating research, development, and deployment of clean energy technologies like fuel cells will ensure that we are leading the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to petroleum fuels. The investment made today helps reduce the nation's reliance on gasoline and diesel while leveraging widely available, lowcost natural gas, spurring innovation, and creating jobs in the U.S. economy.
Plug Power is a specialized manufacturer with a specialized focus on fuel cell powered forklift trucks for the material handling industry. Previously well known as a research and development organization, Plug Power is now a market driven company that has deployed over 2,800 GenDrive units with run times exceeding 8 million hours. A leader in creating cutting edge technology, Plug Power has proudly generated about 152 unique patents. Plug Power's GenDrive fuel cell is a superior alternative to leadacid batteries and is being integrated into the $20 billion global material handling market. As the demand for alternative energy increases, fuel cells, like the ones developed at Plug Power, will be powering electric fleet vehicles in tomorrow's factories, plants and facilities.
Based on feedback collected during an Energy Departmentissued Request for Information and a 2007 Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) study, fuel cell powered GSE can provide significant airport ground operations productivity improvements and emissions reductions. Routine operations and maintenance costs can be approximately 50 percent higher per year for diesel powered tractors, compared to fuel cell powered tractors. Tow tractors run nearly continuously at major airports and the time required for maintenance and charging of batterypowered vehicles can impact productivity, particularly for airlines and air freight industries. Space required for battery charging can also represent a significant cost. Fuel cells have the potential to provide cost savings - capital, operating and maintenance costs as well as financial incentives that reduce capital cost - when used as an alternative to batterypowered electric vehicles for GSE. According to the BMI study, the total estimated current market size for tow tractors is approximately 14,000 tractors in the United States.
As part of a threeyear initiative (essentially one year of development and two years of demonstration), the Energy Department will make $2.5 million available (in fiscal year 2012 funds) with a 50 percent cost share being provided by the award winners.
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