Forklifts at two of STEF’s cold storage distribution centres in Europe will be fitted with hydrogen fuel cells after the food transport and logistics company’s energy subsidiary struck a deal with green energy company Plug Power.
Under the deal, forklifts at STEF’s warehouses near Paris and Madrid will switch to hydrogen fuel cells from lead acid batteries, which lose their charge quickly in cold conditions.
The green energy solutions will potentially be rolled out to STEF’s network of more than 100 sites throughout Europe.
Plug chief executive Andy Marsh says: “Our partnership with STEF as a pedestal customer represents a significant expansion for Plug into Europe.
“This partnership, and others coming later this year, validates Plug’s strategy to expand in the European market.”
STEF Executive Committee member leading real estate and energy activities Vincent Kirklar says: “Our expectations on these first two projects (in Europe) are high and aim at increasing STEF operators’ comfort and safety in a shift by avoiding battery change and improving intralogistics efficiency of our warehouses.
“In Madrid, the hydrogen will be produced on-site using power generated by our 2.9 MWp photovoltaic rooftop plant, enabling us to consume fully green and locally produced hydrogen. We're proud of these projects that combine our care for people and the planet!”
The partnership involves Plug providing STEF’s energy subsidiary Blue EnerFreeze with a complete green hydrogen ecosystem, including fuel cells and refuelling infrastructure, while Toyota will provide compatible fuel cell-ready forklift models.
The Paris and Madrid freezer storage sites will be converted to fuel cells and be operational in the first quarter of 2024.
Lead acid battery changes take about 15 minutes per shift compared to two minutes for hydrogen refuelling. Over a year, the 13 minutes saved per shift represents more than 234 hours of lost productivity per forklift in a three-shift operation.