Hydrogen powered trains – cost effective – and green effective or not?

The German state of Baden-Württemberg has decided not to invest in hydrogen powered trains – hydrogeninsight.com via https://bit.ly/3foHfY0 (and link to original source [in German] at end).

The article comments “The positives for hydrogen were: minor impacts upon introduction and during operation, and no changes required to the rail infrastructure. But the negatives were: costly filling stations; low efficiency, high energy consumption and high cost; the possible need to increase the number of trains because the range would not be sufficient for a whole day of travel; limited availability of green hydrogen; and the need to continually resupply the hydrogen filling stations”

So, what does Railfuture think? Well, today, Hydrogen power often isn’t very green because of the way the Hydrogen is produced – but that could change in the future with much of the power for conversion coming from wind, sun, hydro-electric etc, so perhaps that might change for the better. And it could be a way round possible shortages in the components for batteries.

A hydrogen demonstrator train is under development in Scotland: https://lnkd.in/eZKAP7P5, and this is very much a positive – we need to have real world experience of operating such a train to be able to positively understand the upsides and downsides of operation – and to properly understand relative costs.

So, all in all, very much a possibility to keep a watchful eye on – whilst the German analysis brings out that relative cost is a significant challenge, technologies can change fast and hydrogen power shouldn’t be considered a ‘no, never’ option. But equally, we need to remember the Roger Ford (Railfuture Vice President, Modern Railways and more) expression of “Bionic duckweed” – this probably isn’t the option to solve most of the railway’s decarbonisation goals.

A final thought: That hydrogen supply will need a tank – are we going to see these around again: (https://lnkd.in/eEvNNxNc)

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