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Sainsbury’s trials smart plugs on road to net zero

Sainsbury's has launched a research and development project with fleet electrification specialists Flexible Power Systems (FPS) as part of the retailer’s mission to be net zero across its operations by 2035.

Following a successful trial of FPS technology last year, the supermarket rolled out five electric refrigerated trailers to its lorry fleet that emit zero carbon, reducing the overall pollution impact of the vehicle.

To make further carbon savings, Sainsbury’s is working with FPS to design, develop and deploy a new type of smart plug required to power electric Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU), as well as serving the current fleet.

The smart plugs aim to operate in a similar manner to an EV smart charger where “profiles” can be transmitted from a central management system like FPS’ operate EV and charger management platform.

Working with Flexible Power Systems’ smart charging system, the plugs will manage power demands from plugging in Transport Refrigeration Units (TRUs) of all types in the distribution centre.

By using this technology at Sainsbury’s depots, the supermarket is aiming to save 4 tonnes of carbon per vehicle a year. That’s the equivalent of 3 times the emissions of a new car driving 15,000 miles a year.

Sainsbury’s said the project is part of its efforts to ‘future proof’ its distribution network as the ban on red diesel approaches.

As of 1 April this year, the fuel 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.

Patrick Dunne, director of property and 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,” he added.

Flexible Power Systems builds and operates EV vehicle, charging and infrastructure solutions for fleets.The company is leading £3.8m worth of advanced energy system research, spanning electric vehicle charging technologies, thermal energy storage and retail and warehouse load management.

Michael Ayres, managing director of FPS, 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.”


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