7-Eleven Japan and Toyota inked an agreement this month to study energy conservation and carbon dioxide emissions reduction in convenience store distribution and operation. To that end, the two companies said they plan to work on developing hydrogen fuel cell trucks and power generators.
Currently, 7-Eleven Japan is served by 5,800 delivery trucks, and about 15% of them are hybrids and other clean vehicles, Hydrogen Fuel News reported. The convenience store company’s goal is for that percentage to go up to 20% by 2020, with help from automakers like Mitsubishi, Daimler, and Toyota.
For the new trucking fleet in development with Toyota, both the refrigeration–freezer unit and the vehicle itself will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, according to the press release. Each truck will take goods from delivery centers to individual stores.
The companies are considering introducing stationary hydrogen fuel cell generators to power stores. They’re also looking at installing stationary systems in stores that use rechargeable automobile batteries, which could potentially be used during disasters as emergency power sources and during normal operations to conserve energy.
In addition, Toyota and 7-Eleven Japan plan to install an energy management system for existing solar power generators, the new stationary hydrogen fuel cell power generators, and the new stationary rechargeable battery systems. In 2011, 7-Eleven Japan made headlines for retrofitting stores with LEDs and adding solar panels, turning convenience stores into “eco-konbinis.”
Earlier this year, more than a dozen leading multinational companies promoted the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel, highlighting fuel cell technology as a way to effectively store energy produced from renewables such as wind and solar.
At the moment, 7-Eleven Japan has three convenience stores that double as hydrogen refueling stations, Nikkei Asian Review reported. Toyota and 7-Eleven Japan will begin jointly testing the new hydrogen-powered trucks in 2019.