Sainsbury’s is poised to become the first supermarket to dispense hydrogen for a new generation of environmentally friendly vehicles.

The Sainsbury’s SmartFuel station is being delivered as part of the London Hydrogen Network Expansion project, in association with hydrogen specialist Air Products. The scheme is backed by the government and co-funded by Innovate UK.

Sainsbury’s will test the fuel at its Hendon store in north-west London by the end of this year.

“Hydrogen vehicles are environmentally friendly as well as efficient so we are really excited about being the first UK supermarket to trial this new technology and make it accessible to our customers,” said Avishai Moor, fuel and kiosk category manager at Sainsbury’s.

There is little sacrifice to transport performance using hydrogen and the only by-product of the fuel is water, according to Air Products. Drivers can refuel in less than three minutes, and the fuel offers drivers the same range and speed as conventional vehicles, it added.

Diane Raine, Air Products’ hydrogen energy business manager, said making the technology available at a supermarket for the first time was “another big step in encouraging the use of cleaner, greener fuels to reduce air pollution and protect the nation’s health”.

“We’re already leading the charge with a network of hydrogen stations across London and this additional station will set us in good stead for the UK arrival of commercially available hydrogen vehicles over the next few years.”

She told The Grocer that lots of companies were “watching and waiting”.

Another group, UKH2Mobility, a consortium of industry and government including Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, BOC and Morrisons, predicts that by 2030 there will be 1.6 million hydrogen-powered vehicles on British roads.

Business minister Matthew Hancock last week announced £11m of UK government and industry funding to support hydrogen transport with a view to expanding the number of hydrogen fuelling points to encourage uptake of the vehicles.