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Asda adopts hydrogen tech in West Lancashire DC

The UK is set to see one of its first major deployments of hydrogen fuel cells as Asda adopts the technology for its lift truck.

The supermarket will deploy a full-service hydrogen solution, including fuel cells, hydrogen fuelling equipment, hydrogen itself and ancillary services. As well as using more sustainable fuel, the solution reduces the need for multiple batteries per truck and replaces battery charging and changing stations with a smaller hydrogen fuel dispenser.

The first deployment of the solution will be at Asda’s distribution centre at Skelmersdale in West Lancashire, northern England.

Darren Pettener, general manager of the Asda Skelmersdale distribution centre, said: “Asda is dedicated to being the world’s Most Trusted Retailer, and sustainability is a big part of that.

“We’ve seen first-hand 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. We’re eager to realise the proven environmental and productivity benefits of fuel cell adoption in our operations at Asda.”

Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power, which has supplied the solution, said: “Each new opportunity to expand the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells is an important step to building the hydrogen economy.”

The service is already used by Carrefour and Asda’s parent company Walmart.

Hydrogen has multiple environmental benefits as it is able to deliver similar power levels as fossil fuels but with water as the only waste product. However, the flaw with it is that the hydrogen itself is energy-intensive to produce.

Hyundai recently shipped its first 10 hydrogen fuel cell trucks to Switzerland, where they will be leased to commercial operators including supermarket chains. According to Hyundai, the XCIENT Fuel Cell is the first hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicle. It has a range of 400km on a full fuel tank. The vehicles will be leased on a pay-per-use basis to companies by Swiss hydrogen consortium H2 Energy, with supermarket chain Migros expected to be one of the users.