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Galeries Lafayette uses hydrogen for last mile to cut carbon emissions

French retailer Galeries Lafayette is working with a start-up to use hydrogen in its last mile delivery vehicles.

The collaboration with renewable provider Akuo Energy will see Galeries Lafayette and other companies using a fleet of 400 hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The network will initially consist of 33 refuelling stations in Paris and other major urban areas, before later being expanded across France. The project will benefit from a European Commission subsidy of €7 million, as it meets criteria for the body’s goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Other companies taking part in the initiative include outdoor advertising supplier JCDecaux.

According to Galeries Lafayette’s 2017 sustainability report, it has already transitioned its Paris delivery vehicles onto compressed natural gas and last year reduced its air freight emissions by 39%.

The majority of home deliveries currently rely on diesel cars, which emit nitrogen oxide as well as carbon dioxide.

Hydrogen vehicles combine hydrogen gas with oxygen from the surrounding air to create electricity, with pure water as the only emission. However, disadvantages include the flammability of the fuel, the higher chance of leaks and the danger of electrical shock due to the higher voltage required.

Delivery companies CitySprint and FedEx are both trialling hydrogen for deliveries.

Other solutions to this problem include electric vans, with Hermes and DHL exploring the use of electric vans. DHL is not only building its own vans but also supplying them to other companies. Royal Mail and UPS were also experimenting with the technology.

Image credit: Galeries Lafayette