18 DIESEL PROGRESS NORTH AMERICAN EDI TION January 2010
Ballard supplies the fuel cell stacks, like the one seen here, used in Plug Power’s power pack units. The fuel cells are designed to be refilled quickly and not lose charge during an operating shift.
MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT
from customers seeking the produc- tivity gains, particularly in new con- struction and “greenfield” sites, which can be designed and built around the hydrogen infrastructure. Kroemer explained in the European market, government funding tends to be more project oriented, based on a group of partners working together, rather than granted to individual oper- ators, limiting the opportunities to implement the technology at individ- ual sites in some cases. In addition, the trend in Europe, for the most part, he said, is that the OEMs are asked to build the equipment with the fuel cells already in place, instead of installed as a retrofit by the operators — with the exception of some larger cus- tomers, he said. Because investment in the technol- ogy is still in the early stages, costs are high and won’t go down until the technology is more in demand and marketable. It’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum, as Kroemer explained. While the technology is available, the next step is to make it economically and commercially competitive. “Most people look at this as a fringe technology,” said Brower. “This technology is here; it’s here today. It’s commercially available. We have products available to satis- fy the needs of a huge portion of the material handling industry. This is a technology that exists. It can be pur- chased; it can be utilized; it can be deployed.” dp