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Saudi Arabia Partners with Alstom on Green Hydrogen Trains
Saudi Arabia Partners with Alstom on Green Hydrogen Trains

Saudi Arabia has launched its testing of hydrogen trains, following an agreement with French train company Alstom. The remarkable hydrogen train project is part of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the Saudi Green Initiative, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and promoting clean energy.

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Hydrogen Trains – The Future of Sustainable Transport

Hydrogen, a clean energy source that can be generated from renewable energy and natural gas, is anticipated to be a crucial fuel in the forthcoming years as industries and economies globally transition to a low-carbon world. 

Hydrogen comes in various forms – blue, green, and grey. Blue and grey hydrogen are derived from natural gas, while green hydrogen is produced by splitting water molecules through a process known as electrolysis.

Hydrogen trains, one of the most promising innovations in sustainable transport, generate the required energy for operation and movement without carbon emissions. 

This attribute, coupled with their range of benefits, makes them an appealing choice in the drive for sustainable energy. They positively impact the environment, economy, and the future of upcoming generations.

Testing of Hydrogen Trains

The operational tests and studies will be conducted to ensure that this type of train is compatible with the kingdom’s environment, preparing for its future entry into service. The trials, which commenced in October, make Saudi Arabia the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to embark on such an endeavor.

“We are committed to working with SAR in their drive to support the kingdom’s engagements on clean energy and a net-zero target by 2060.” – Mohamed Khalil, Managing Director of Alstom in Saudi Arabia

The trial runs for the first-ever hydrogen-powered passenger train in Riyadh will aim to demonstrate the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train, a project expected to help Saudi Arabia reach its Vision 2030 goals. 

These goals intend to diversify its economy away from a reliance on oil and reduce its national carbon emissions.

  1. Test Route: The Coradia iLint, manufactured by Alstom, will travel 10 to 20 kilometers on SAR’s East Network’s Line 1 or Line 2 in Riyadh as part of the trial.
  2. Goal: The project will help Saudi Arabia reach its Vision 2030 goals, which intend to diversify its economy away from reliance on oil and reduce its national carbon emissions.

The Saudi Green Initiative

Image Credit Alstom

The hydrogen train project is a key part of the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to transition to a more sustainable transport system that harnesses the latest intelligent technologies. 

The Saudi Green Initiative, which is a part of the Saudi Vision 2030, mandates increasing the kingdom’s reliance on clean energy, reducing carbon emissions, and protecting the environment.

Commitment to Sustainable Transport

The Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR) has affirmed its commitment to adopting sustainable transport technologies. 

The hydrogen train project aligns with the National Transport and Logistics Strategy and promises to have a broad impact on the environment, economy, and the future of the coming generations.

Hydrogen Train History

Image Credit Saudi Arabia Railways

The certified trials of hydrogen trains started in 2018 in Germany and continued until 2020. Commercial operations, specifically for passenger transport, commenced in 2022.

Future of Hydrogen Trains

With the commencement of hydrogen train trials, it seems electrification is not a priority for Saudi Arabia. Instead, hydrogen trains hold immense potential in reducing carbon emissions and providing a viable alternative to diesel trains for non-electrified lines. 

This approach is a significant stepping stone in developing hydrogen-powered train systems suitable for meeting the increasing capacity needs of the Kingdom and SAR networks.

Hydrogen Production

Image Credit Saudi Arabia Railways

The source of the hydrogen used for the trials has not been announced, and it is not known whether it is produced with electricity. As of the end of 2021, almost 47 percent of global hydrogen production was from natural gas, 27 percent from coal, 22 percent from oil, and only around 4 percent came from electrolysis.

Saudi Arabia’s Climate Commitment

Saudi Arabia, known for its oil exports and not for being a climate frontrunner, ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which was adopted in 2015. 

The agreement aims to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The Gulf state has set a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2060. 

Saudi Arabia’s launch of hydrogen train testing is a significant milestone in the transition to sustainable transport. 

The kingdom’s commitment to the Saudi Green Initiative, reducing carbon emissions, and promoting clean energy sends a clear message to the world about the future of transportation. With the dawn of hydrogen trains, Saudi Arabia is indeed paving the way for a greener future.

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