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Asda to become the first UK retailer to trial hydrogen fuel cells

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Asda is set to become the first UK retailer to use hydrogen fuel cells to power manual handling equipment, reducing its carbon footprint in the area by 80%.

The six-month trial will take place at its Skelmersdale Chilled Distribution Centre (CDC) in Greater Manchester and the cells will be used to power equipment such as fork lift trucks and order pickers.

The fuel cells, which are produced by company Plug Power, have twice the power of lead acid batteries and release zero emissions, with water the only bi-product. The trial could see the retailer reduce carbon dioxide in this one site by 120 kilograms of CO2e and close to 300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The cells work via a simple connector - not dissimilar in the way batteries are currently connected - which powers the cells and the equipment. The refuel takes less than 90 seconds to complete and is significantly shorter than lead batteries, which can take up to 15 minutes.

Darren Pettner, General Manager at Asda's Skelmersdale CDC, said: “Being a sustainable business is a big priority for us, so we are delighted to introduce a new way of working which will have a significant impact on our carbon footprint.

“We are excited about the possibilities this trial presents and what we could achieve in the future.”

Asda is making carbon reduction a priority across the business. The grocer has already reduced its energy usage by 20% in stores and uses the same amount of energy as it it did in 2005, despite its estate being 200% bigger.

The retailer has made a firm commitment to reduce its scope one and two emissions by 50% by 2025 and is working with suppliers to sharing ideas and solutions to tackle climate change and food waste.

Part of Walmart, Asda is also committed to meeting its target to remove 1 billion tonnes of emissions globally as part of Project Gigaton, with 179 Asda suppliers having already signed up to this commitment, saving 29 million metric tonnes of emissions.