Air Liquide and Plug Power announce their intent to join forces to develop the market for hydrogen-powered forklift trucks in Europe. Among all the markets for hydrogen energy that of fuel-cell powered forklift trucks is today the fastest growing one. This initiative should lead to the creation of a joint venture based in France.
This anticipated joint venture between Plug Power and Axane (subsidiary of the Air Liquide group) would rely on the advanced technology of the GenDrive® fuel cell solution from Plug Power, world leader in fuel cells for forklift trucks, for developing, manufacturing andmarketing a range of fuel cells for forklift trucks in Europe.
The vehicles running on hydrogen emit almost no greenhouse gases, offer productivity gains and are highly flexible. Hydrogen offers users a source of power that is reliable, profitable and environmentally friendly.
These advantages have been highlighted in the North-American market where more than 2,300 forklift trucks running on hydrogen will be deployed by the end of 2011. The potential development of this market in Europe could be around 10,000 units by 2015.
An overall package that is totally clean, composed of the GenDrive fuel cell associated with hydrogen supplied by Air Liquide filling stations, would be offered to the European market. Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, discharging only water. In the context of the Group's Blue Hydrogen approach, this hydrogen will be gradually produced without discharge of CO2.
Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power Inc., said: “As a leading global provider of hydrogen, Air Liquide is the ideal partner to help spearhead our expansion into the European market. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with Air Liquide to bring the economic and environmental benefits of our fuel cell products to the European material handling industry.”
François Darchis, Senior Vice-President and a member of Air Liquide's Executive Committee, commented: "This partnership will allow us to contribute throughout Europe to the deployment of hydrogen fleets. The forklift market prefigures the future development of the hydrogen-powered automobile market. Hydrogen is one of the solutions that offer a response in the short term to the challenges of sustainable mobility: reducing greenhouse gases, local pollution in our cities and dependency on oil-based fuels thus contributing to the preservation of the environment. Energy and the Environment are growth drivers for the Air Liquide Group."