Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) shares have rallied 3996% over the past 12 months, making it the best performer on the Nasdaq. While a section of investors believed in its technology, others argued that Plug Power is just another bubble. Citron Research criticized the company’s fundamentals last month, saying it was a penny stock.

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Energy Department shares the views of Plug Power

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) is now exploring new markets where its fuel cell systems can replace fossil fuels. The Latham, New York-based company has identified two such markets: airport support vehicles and refrigerated delivery trucks. Plug Power forecasts that it will generate its first ever profit during the fourth quarter this year.

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) plans to build an industrial ecosystem powered by fuel cells. The U.S. Energy Department has realized the potential of fuel cell technologies in many other applications, besides forklifts. Cheryl Martin, the director of Advance Research Projects Agency said at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference that the Energy Department will award $30 million in research grants this year.

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) CEO Andrew Marsh said at the conference that the company focused on material handling business because it’s a market where fuel cells make sense. And this market needed a better product. The company expects orders for its fuel cell systems to quadruple to about $150 million this year. Fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical reaction involving hydrogen or natural gas.

Plug Power developing fuel cells for airport support vehicles

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG)’s fuel cell systems work as a replacement for the lead-acid batteries that are used in most forklifts today. But fuel cells have an advantage: they can run 24 hours a day, though they need short breaks to refuel. In contrast, batteries take plenty of time to recharge, so forklifts are idle. Fuel cells don’t emit carbon, and chemical reactions are silent. So, they are a good fit for refrigerated food trucks.

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) is currently working with food distribution giant Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY) and other customers. Marsh says the company will demonstrate systems by the end of this year, and commercial sales will start in 2015. The company is also developing fuel cells for vehicles that move planes, haul luggage, and provide other support services at airports. Plug Power acquired ReliOn Inc for $4 million last week to bring the production of fuel-cell stacks in-house.

Plug Power Inc (NASDAQ:PLUG) shares were down 1.80% to $7.08 at 10:15 AM EDT on Wednesday.