Sainsbury's exploring world of green tech

Smart plugs: Sainsbury’s researching greener technology to power transport refrigeration units

UK grocer Sainsbury’s has launched a research and development project with fleet electrification specialist business, Flexible Power Systems (FPS), to find greener technology to power its transport refrigeration units (TRU).

The retailer has already rolled out five electric refrigerated trailers to its lorry fleet as part of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and cut down pollution levels, but it is now looking to help FPS create a smart plug required to power the TRUs and serve its current fleet.

Once developed, the plugs are expected to be used at Sainsbury’s depots, where the grocer hopes it will save four tonnes of carbon per vehicle a year.

It is a timely project because from 1 April 2022 red diesel will no longer be available at a rebated rate for many commercial applications, as part of the government’s plans to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and improve air quality. The greener technology drive also comes at a time when most retailers are tackling the environmental agenda and aiming to becoming more eco-friendly throughout the supply chain.

Patrick Dunne, director of property & procurement at Sainsbury’s, said: “Following the announcement of our newly accelerated target to be net zero in our own operations by 2035, we’re committed to trialling and investing in pioneering technology to enable us to lead the way to a decarbonised future.

“We will continue to introduce fully electric refrigerated trailers to our delivery fleet over the next 20 years and are excited to be working with FPS to maximise our carbon savings even further, making our delivery fleet more efficient and better for the planet.”

FPS is already working with Waitrose, and the company’s managing director Michael Ayres said: “Companies like Sainsbury’s have to decarbonise their fleets to combat climate change.

“We know that addressing trucks will be challenging because of their size, the distance they travel and payloads they carry. Increasing electrification in transport refrigeration and ensuring our electrification eco-system around the vehicle technologies works operationally is an important first step in this journey.”

He added: “Workable TRU vehicle technologies are coming to market now and the upcoming ban on red diesel only serves to make this more urgent for operators, and we’re excited to be working with Sainsbury’s to find solutions to expand plug provision at their distribution centres, some of which have power constraints.”

Read more about greener technology on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Sainsbury’s]

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