German Retailer Upgrades Battery-Electric Logistics Fleet to Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Discount supermarket chain Lidl is switching its entire fleet of battery-electric vehicles from a logistics hub to fuel cells powered by green hydrogen, making it the first of its kind in Europe, according to a Press release.

Around 100 forklifts, or 80% of the vehicle fleet at the German distributor’s logistics center in Carquefou, western France, are already running on green hydrogen, with the rest expected to follow by the end of the year. The center will be powered by 75 kilograms of green hydrogen per day generated 75 kilometers away by the Lhyfe company using wind energy.

Lidl said refueling times were decisive in its decision to go with fuel cells. “The refueling time of a hydrogen vehicle is only 2 to 3 minutes compared to several hours for a lead-acid battery”, specifies the company.

Hydrogen vehicles are available 97% of the time, compared to around 50% with leaded technology, Lidl said, adding that this required significantly less charging or refueling space and allowed for a reduction in fleet inventory.

Lidl said it plans to deploy green hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in other logistics centers in the medium term, or use them to power part of its delivery truck fleet.

Lidl’s example shows that fuel cell vehicles can offer significant advantages in niche applications where charging times are critical, such as logistics centers that operate around the clock – even though modern battery electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which can be recharged much longer. quickly than lead-acid models.

Most specialists to believe that the majority of utility vehicles in the future will be battery electric as they are much more energy efficient than fuel cells.

They also argue that hydrogen will remain a scarce resource and should be used in sectors that cannot be electrified directly, such as industry and aviation.

But unlike passenger cars, which appear to be going almost exclusively battery-electric, the technology race in heavy-duty transport is not yet settled. Truck manufacturers are increasingly betting on battery-powered trucks, but some are also turning to fuel cell technology.

This story first appeared in Clean Energy Wire. Reproduced with permission.

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