BMW Manufacturing Co. announced that it is using hydrogen fuel cells to power material handling equipment in their South Carolina assembly plant. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts, tuggers and stackers will be used in the assembly hall that produces the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle®. The only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cells are heat and water, making this energy choice more efficient than other, more conventional energy sources.
“BMW has taken another important step to affirm our global commitment to sustainability with a project such as this in Spartanburg,” said Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing. “There’s a clear vision and determination to reach our goal of using renewable energy as much as possible throughout the plant site.”
Initially, the hydrogen-powered material handling fleet will consist of more than 85 pieces of equipment, making it one of the largest hydrogen fuel-cell fleets in the U.S. In addition to the many other benefits, fuel cells offer a long operating life and provide continuous power, with no loss, even as the tank nears empty. BMW Manufacturing estimates that this project will avoid 1.8 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity consumption.
The Hydrogen Fuel Cell fleet complements BMW’s successful Landfill Gas to Energy initiative started in early 2003. BMW powers approximately 50% of the plant’s total energy requirements using methane from a local landfill, a previously wasted resource. To date, the landfill gas project has saved BMW an annual average of $5 million in energy costs.