Trains powered by green hydrogen instead of diesel could be rolling down Britain’s tracks, if an understanding sealed yesterday bears fruit.
Locomotive and rolling stock operator Eversholt Rail and clean tech company Getech Group told investors they’d signed a non-binding memo of understanding, agreeing to collaborate on hydrogen as a fuel.
The memo is being undertaken by H2 Green, Getech’s subsidiary with plans to develop rail-side hubs. Its counter party operates 3,200 passenger and freight vehicles.
The companies have identified as beneficiaries the nation’s numerous lines deemed too expensive to electrify, such as in Scotland’s Highlands, England’s trans-Pennine routes and the south Wales corridor west of Cardiff.
Low cost of any substitute for diesel is a commercial pre-requisite, the parties agree.
AIM-quoted Getech Group’s expertise straddles site analysis, planning and GIS-based supply optimisation, focused on bunkering industries using clean fuels. Its H2 Green subsidiary intends to knit land assets next to the UK rail network into a network of large-scale hubs for green gas production & distribution, including for road traffic.
The parties disclosed no milestones nor cash commitments to frame their understanding. They plan to develop commercial propositions around systems for hydrogen supply to rolling stock, to be presented to train and transport operators.
Getech group CEO Jonathan Copus reminded investors that hydrogen has been designated a strategic fuel by the UK government.
“For rail companies operating in remote locations, there is a compelling economic and business rationale to be both early adopters and large volume customers of green hydrogen”, he added.
Decades of sporadic infrastructure investment have left Britain with one of Europe’s least electrified networks. Diesel has inevitably filled the fuel gap.
Riding Sunbeams, the Sussex-based community benefit venture spun out of Community Energy South, intends low carbon DC solar electricity to be a potentially world-beating solution as a cheap displacement for diesel.
Following trials in 2019 with trackside generation at Aldershot station, the venture is deploying its renewables-plus-storage design to electrify lines north of Cardiff.
Funded by Transport for Wales and the Rail Safety Standards Board, the team calculate their solution could cover as much as 40% of traction power needed by the area’s 25 kV AC system.