Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Whole Foods Market, the worlds largest organic and natural foods supermarket, will be the first supermarket to be powered by fuel cell technology (UTC Power, a subsidiary of United Technology Corp) . The initiative is funded by a $940,000 grant from Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and will be allocated in full towards the purchase of the fuel cell.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that produces electricity through the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, generating a byproduct of water and heat. As long as fuel is supplied, the fuel cell will continue to generate power. The conversion of the fuel to energy is an electrochemical process (not combustion) and as a result is clean, quiet and highly efficient source of energy – two to three times the efficiency of fuel burning.
The application of fuel cell technology at Whole Foods is typically found in "futuristic cars" referred to as fuel cell vehicles that incorporate tanks of hydrogen instead of gasoline. In this case the technology will be applied to harness energy at the store to cool refrigeration cases year round and heat the store in the cool winter months, through a process that captures exhaust energy. The 46,000 square food store is opening in Glastonbury, Connecticut. This earth friendly move is part of an ongoing initiative by the supermarket giant who has an ambitious environmental history.
In 2006 the company moved to relying on wind energy for all of its electricity needs, making it the largest corporate user of renewable energy in the United States. The organization purchased 458,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy credits a year, enough to power 44,000 homes annually, from Renewable Choice Energy of Boulder, Colorado. In the same year the company also began rolling wind energy for the 173 stores it was operating (up'ing the ante on the 20% stake it already had in using renewable energy). As early as 2005 the store was making headlines with its environmental stance, when U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listed Whole Foods as the eighth largest user of renewable energy among U.S. corporations and governmental agencies. The move to wind energy in 2006, put the giant at the top of the list ahead of the U.S. Air Force (312,416 megawatt-hours) and corporate leader Johnson & Johnson (241,398 megawatt-hours), according to the EPA.
The good green moves of Whole Foods just give us more reason to love shopping there! Hopefully this will serve as yet another promising example for large corporation exploring the viability of getting more green, and staying profitable.