The six-week trial will see M&S using several fuel cell vehicles to directly replace part of its existing fleet of battery powered materials handling vehicles.
Using the ITM Power HFuel® platform to generate hydrogen, the vehicles will be deployed at the M&S 1.1 million square feet (102 000 m2) Prologis Park Distribution Centre in Bradford.
The trial forms part of the M&S Plan A initiative, and aims to deliver zero emission vehicles with superior performance and refuelling in just two minutes. The trial is the first of its kind in the UK, and demonstrates the cutting edge vision of M&S and ITM Power.
Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s eco and ethical programme, which aims to make M&S the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.
The global materials handling market, valued at $20 billion, is seen as a key early adoption market for hydrogen, with fuel cells already able to offer superior performance to battery powered systems.
It is unclear whose fuel cells are being used in the Marks & Spencer trial. Last November US-based fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power – which dominates the nascent North American market – announced a joint venture with Air Liquide in France, through the latter’s fuel cell subsidiary Axane, to meet growing demand for Plug Power’s GenDrive® fuel cell products across the European material handling market.
‘We are excited to be trialling this solution with a company like ITM Power, and with a technology which has the potential to drive significant carbon reductions from our warehouse operations,’ says Darrell Stein, Director of IT and Logistics for M&S. ‘If we are to achieve our ambitious goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer, then we must continue to innovate and push the boundaries in every part of our business.’
‘The involvement of companies such as M&S is essential to developing commercially viable hydrogen solutions for the materials handling industry,’ adds Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power.
ITM Power is involved in a number of major hydrogen fuelling projects in the UK. These include the recently launched UKH2Mobility initiative, the EcoIsland project in the Isle of Wight, and ITM Power’s ongoing Hydrogen On Site Trial (HOST) programme of week-long trials at 21 partners around the UK, launched last spring.