Colruyt Group And AB Inbev Join Forces To Develop The Market For Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks In Belgium

By April 1, 2021 5   min read  (893 words)

April 1, 2021 |

Fuel cells works, Colruyt Group And AB Inbev Join Forces To Develop The Market For Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks In Belgium

Colruyt Group and AB Inbev intend to start emission-free deliveries by hydrogen* trucks between their logistics hubs in Belgium.

On their way to zero-emission transport, the two companies want to build further on the hydrogen economy for heavy transport in Belgium. The top management of both companies, Jef Colruyt, CEO Colruyt Group and Fabio Sala, President AB InBev BeNeFraLux, signed that intention.

Green hydrogen as promising solution for heavy-duty transport

Snag 2962eccColruyt Group & AB Inbev believe that green hydrogen is a promising zero-emission solution for the heavy-duty trucking industry. Both parties want to develop a market for green hydrogen fuel and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, together with their respective transport partners. The collaboration includes that both parties will study the rollout of hydrogen trucks and refueling stations on a large scale. In the upcoming 5 years, both parties want to work together to accelerate the transition of hydrogen economy by establishing a 360-degree H2 ecosystem: renewable hydrogen production, a network of hydrogen refueling stations and hydrogen fuel cell trucks. Belgium is the initial geographical focus for this project. To develop the hydrogen ecosystem in Belgium, AB Inbev & Colruyt Group will make joint efforts:

Phase 1: Setting up first pilots    Phase 2: roll out of first stations and trucks

  • AB Inbev & Colruyt Group will involve transport partners on their way to zero emission.
  • Both parties will build common expertise: AB InBev will be the first supplier to the 44-tonne hydrogen truck that Colruyt Group previously tested as an EU first in its logistics process.
  • AB Inbev & Colruyt Group want to set up a dedicated lane by a hydrogen truck between their logistics hubs.
  • Investigate the rollout of hydrogen trucks and refueling stations.

Phase 2: roll out of first stations and trucks

  • High capacity hydrogen stations by DATS 24, the fuel supplier of Colruyt Group, to launch the market.
  • Purchase of hydrogen trucks.

Transition towards a carbon neutral society

Fuel cell and hydrogen technology is a very promising zero-emission powertrain solution for the heavy-duty trucking industry. Within electrification of heavy commercial vehicles, there is no one-size-fits-all-universal solution. Jef Colruyt adds: “Colruyt Group is very pleased to see that key suppliers such as AB Inbev, will jointly explore hydrogen fuel cell trucks – it strengthens us that we are making the right choices here”.

These trucks are powered by electricity generated by an onboard fuel cell using hydrogen as fuel. They provide an operational performance comparable to diesel trucks regarding daily range, refueling time and payload capacity. This technology will play a key role in the transition towards a carbon neutral society. Furthermore, in pure electric mode, the truck is very quiet, which fits in with our pursuit of more silent deliveries to the stores. “No single company can build a more sustainable future alone, we are proud to partner with Colruyt Group. As a brewer we rely on natural ingredients, we see it as our responsibility to invest in green logistics,” says Fabio Sala, Head AB InBev BeNeFraLux.

European collaboration

The hydrogen truck test fits in with the European demonstration project ‘Hydrogen region 2.0’ to develop knowhow and experience with large-scale hydrogen applications in logistics. By widely sharing the experience gained, Hydrogen region 2.0. wants to inspire other large logistic centres to adopt hydrogen-powered vehicles as well. The project is made possible with financial support by the European Union in the framework of the Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland program.

Two experienced pioneering partners joining forces

AB InBev has a clear path towards greener logistics, and positions itself as a first mover with recent investments in the two very first Belgian e-trucks. In December 2020, AB InBev pioneered the very first Belgian e-truck to soon deliver emission-free to horeca in Leuven. A second e-truck will follow shortly. This intention to pilot a hydrogen truck is yet another proof of its belief in green logistics. The various transport operations in Belgium were previously optimized by using ecocombi’s – collaboration with Colruyt – beer boats and trains, and by producing Stella Artois’ overseas volumes locally.  In 2019 AB InBev completed its first zero-emission beer delivery in the USA, 18 months after placing an order for 800 hydrogen-electric semi-trucks. These green logistics operations, are in line with the 2025 sustainability goals to reduce 25% of CO2 by 2025.

Colruyt Group has always believed in the importance of hydrogen to make mobility and power supply more sustainable. The retail group has the ambition to invest over 35 million euros in innovative applications using hydrogen and it has been producing its own green hydrogen for almost a decade, mainly as energy support for forklift trucks and passenger cars in its fleet. In 2018, Colruyt Group started offering hydrogen to the larger public in the DATS 24 fuel station in Halle, Europe’s first all integrated fuel station offering hydrogen next to CNG, diesel, petrol, AdBlue and a fast charger for electric cars.. Four additional public fuel stations will be fitted with a hydrogen installation in the upcoming months: Haasrode, Wilrijk, Erpe-Mere and Herve. In December 2020, the retailer put the first 44-tonne hydrogen powered electric truck in Europe into service, developed by VDL Groep. Next to that, Colruyt Group is actively involved in the H2HAUL project, which will deploy 16 heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell trucks in four European countries. Colruyt Group will commission four additional hydrogen trucks by 2022. These trucks will refuel at a dedicated fuel station, built by DATS 24.

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