Asda to deploy hydrogen fuel cell tech for supply chain

Asda has struck a deal to become the first UK supermarket to use hydrogen fuel cell technology to power its fleet of warehouse lift trucks.

US company Plug Power will provide the Asda with zero emission hydrogen fuel cell solutions, beginning with its fulfilment facility in Skelmersdale.

The tie up will extend to the rest of Asda’s supply chain network in the coming years.

Plug Power’s GenKye solution includes fuel cells, hydrogen fuelling equipment and service.

The deal marks the first deployment at scale of hydrogen fuel cell technology for material handling within the United Kingdom.

The technology is aimed at reducing Asda’s reliance on traditional lead acid batteriesto power its material handling fleet and is part of a broader initiative designed to make the company’s operations more environmentally-friendly.

Fuel cell powered logistics equipment should let distribution centres achieve substantial productivity gains and higher material velocity by eliminating the downtime required for battery charging and changing.

In addition, the fuel cell solution frees up floor space by removing the need for multiple batteries per truck, and replacing bulky battery charging and changing stations with a compact hydrogen fuel dispenser.

Asda is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart, which itself is a longtime Plug Power customer. Asda maintains control over its logistics network, which includes more than 30 distribution centres, staffed by more than 12,000 employees across the UK.

The deal comes as Asda works towards meeting its target to remove one billion tonnes of emissions globally as part of Project Gigaton, with 179 Asda suppliers having already signed up to this commitment, saving a significant 29 million metric tonnes of emissions.

Darren Pettener, general manager of the Asda's Skelmersdale distribution centre, said: “We’ve seen firsthand what a difference hydrogen fuel cell adoption has made for our parent company.

"There are good reasons why Walmart, which has been a leader in supply chain innovation for decades, has chosen to build the largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicles in the world."

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