Walmart opens first-of-its kind green hydrogen plant

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart executives in Chile
Walmart executives celebrate the opening of a green hydrogen plant in Chile.

Walmart is taking what it describes as a critical step in its efforts to become a regenerative company.

The discount retailer has opened a green hydrogen plant at its Quilicura distribution center in Santiago, Chile, in partnership with generating company Engie. Walmart said the plant is the first of its kind in Latin America and will play a key role in Walmart Chile’s path to net-zero emissions.

In its first stage, the green hydrogen plant will allow the Quilicura distribution center to replace the lead-acid batteries of 200 forklift cranes with hydrogen energy cells, cutting 250 tons of toxic waste per year. Over the course of the 15-year project, Walmart expects it to reduce the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere by 17,100 tons, the equivalent of planting 34,200 trees.

Today, 84% of Walmart Chile’s consumption currently comes from clean energy sources, and Walmart says its over 390 facilities in Chile are on track to reach the goal of operating with 100% renewable energy before its global commitment to do so by 2035.

Walmart’s regenerative goals include reaching zero emissions in global operations and committing to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. In 2021, Walmart released a new set of sustainable best practices for farming row crops in its supply chain.

Through innovations in energy and transportation, Walmart seeks to power 100% of its global operations with renewable sources of energy by 2035 and achieve an overall goal of zero emissions across global operations by 2040.  

“Walmart first embraced the potential in hydrogen fuel in 2012, with a fleet of 50 vehicles and forklifts in the U.S., which we have since grown to over 9,500 forklifts,” said Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon. “Now, with over a decade of experience and progress, Walmart is well-positioned to invest in Chile's potential as a producer of clean energy, including green hydrogen.

“We’ve set a goal to become a regenerative company. A company that leaves things better than we found them,” McMillon said. “The energy transition our world needs isn’t an easy one, but by working together, we can do it.”

"We see tremendous potential for our business [and] want to expand the use of this technology to [all] distribution centers [in] the company's logistics network throughout the country, with the aim of operating 100% with green hydrogen by 2025,” said Walmart Chile CEO Cristián Barrientose. “We are already exploring new uses in the area of transport and emergency services where we already have pilots in operation.”