While generalized hydrogen infrastructure is very slowly gaining ground on the nation’s highways, BMW fuel cell vehicles are already inhouse at BMW Spartanburg, South Carolina.
A warehouse or manufacturing facility is the last place that you want to have an internal combustion engine running, which is why materials handling equipment, from fork trucks to man lifts and warehouse utility trucks are mostly electric.
Of course this requires extensive battery charging facilities inhouse as well. On the other hand, the opportunity to test out BMW fuel cell vehicle technology and benefits was seen right in BMW’s own manufacturing facilities in Spartanburg, SC.
In 2010, about a hundred BMW fuel cell materials handling units were operational in the facility covering about four million square feet.
Two years later, that number has better than doubled, to the benefit of BMW’s bottom line, saving better than 4 million kWh of electricity annually, or enough electricity to power four hundred homes for a year.
BMW is continuing to expand their renewable energy program, and produces 38% of its own energy from renewable biogas, just shy of 71 million kWh. [Only Wal-Mart exceeds BMW in renewable energy production at nearly 175 million kWh.]