Walmart Incorporated CEO Doug McMillon attended the grand opening of a green hydrogen plant at Walmart’s Quilicura Distribution Centre in Santiago, Chile, representing the company’s continued investment in and commitment to renewable energy.
Industrial-scale and renewable, the project was developed collaboratively with the generating company Engie. Once converted, 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.
Walmart Chile CEO Cristián Barrientos, Chile Minister of Finance Mario Marcel, Chile Minister of Energy Diego Pardow and Engie Chile Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Pablo Villarino joined McMillon for the event, recognising the opening of the plant as a critical step in Walmart’s global commitment to become a regenerative and zero-emission company by 2040.
"We see tremendous potential for our business and want to expand the use of this technology to [all] distribution centres in the company's logistics network throughout the country, to operate 100 percent with green hydrogen by 2025,” said Barrientos.
"We are already exploring new uses in transport and emergency services where we already have pilots in operation.”
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. Throughout the 15-year project, Walmart expects to reduce the release of CO2 into the atmosphere by 17,100 tons, the equivalent of planting 34,200 trees.
“Walmart first embraced the potential in hydrogen fuel in 2012, with a fleet of 50 vehicles and forklifts in the USA, which we have since grown to over 9,500 forklifts,” said McMillan. With over a decade of experience and progress, Walmart is well-positioned to invest in Chile's potential as a clean energy producer, including green hydrogen.
McMillan continued that Chile’s potential is tremendous.
The Chilean government has made renewable energy a priority. As a result, Chilean solar- and wind-power sectors have increased their generation capacity fivefold over the last few years, with up to 70 percent of the country's electrical grid projected to be renewable-powered by 2030. This gives Chile a unique opportunity to develop a competitive green hydrogen industry powered by low-cost renewable resources while driving a sustainable economy around it.
Walmart has made impressive and meaningful advances toward its climate goals, like incorporating renewable sources through self-generation and purchasing certified renewable energy. Currently, 84 percent of Walmart Chile’s consumption comes from clean energy sources, and over 390 facilities are on track to reach the goal of operating with 100 percent renewable energy well before its global commitment to do so by 2035.
“We’ve set a goal to become a regenerative company. A company that leaves things better than we found them.”
McMillan emphasised that the energy transition the world needed wasn’t easy, but it could be achieved by working together.