Scotland has set an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by de-carbonising its passenger railways by 2035, but officials in the country do not want to dump their old rail cars along the way. Instead, they want to reuse existing trains, an approach they hope could be a sustainable game for the country’s rail system. Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “If we can use them in a carbon-neutral way, we will have great achievements in the field of climate. This project is not only an important step in helping us understand the practical challenges. The use of hydrogen traction in rail is an example of a Scottish investment to seize the opportunity to create a safe, flexible, and cost-effective railway system.”
Hydrogen: A Clean Fuel
A hydrogen vehicle uses hydrogen as its propellant, which reacts with oxygen in a downward manner; this means that it does not produce any waste and is not harmful to the environment. However, the introduction of hydrogen as a clean fuel does not provide a precise definition of this fuel and should be called clean energy storage technology, which has so far been used in space rockets, electrochemical engines or combustion engines in electric vehicles, cellular vehicles and spacecraft. And now the first public transport train with hydrogen fuel has started operating.
ScotRail Fuel Technology
The fuel of this train is produced by electrolysis or electroplating of water. The only waste products are water and steam, so it can be called the most compatible fuel with the environment because its clean burning also plays an important role in air quality.
The hydrogen fuel cells used in these trains by combining oxygen and hydrogen allow the trains to reach a speed of 140 km/h, which, although not the highest speed, is considered to be an average high speed. Of course, this method has also been criticised as it is the modification of natural gas to produce more hydrogen, which produces harmful CO2 gas as a by-product. But the idea of a “carbon-free world” now needs a major revolution in the transport system. There is a tough competition between hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries as the best mechanism for storing renewable energy. Hydrogen can definitely be considered the winner of this competition because a vehicle with lithium ion may spend half of your useful life charging to gain the ability to move.
Lithium-Ion Battery System
These engines can also store excess energy in the lithium-ion battery system as a backup while using hydrogen fuel as the driving force, a dual approach used in ScotRail hydrogen trains, allowing the train to move. For a distance of about one thousand kilometers (about 600 miles) they require hydrogen refueling only once and without the need to stop and refuel.
These engines also operate completely silently, which is a significant advantage over the diesel type. Rapid refueling and the use of hydrogen as fuel in hydrogen trains show another advantage in their use in transport. Although the cost of buying a hydrogen train is somewhat higher than a diesel train, its fuel does not cost much and this amount will be compensated in the future.
The fuel cell technology appears to be increasing. Alstom also recently announced plans to introduce hydrogen fuel cell trains to Austria and Italy, and Scotland is now available with a major new fuel cell abandonment plan led by the new Arcola Energy Company.
The new initiative involves Arcola, the Scottish Economic Development Enterprise, the Scottish Public Transport Agency and the Hydrogen Accelerator at the University of St Andrew. If in doubt about Scotland’s commitment to the hydrogen economy, the hydrogen accelerator is here to address them.
The hydrogen accelerator describes its mission as “principal in defining and delivering de-carbonisation in Scotland“. This includes playing a key role in technology evaluation as well as technology optimization, standardisation and communication guidance. The accelerator also helps private companies, academic R&D resources and other local resources connect with each other.
The Secret of De-Carbonisation Behind the New Pressure of Diesel to Hydrogen
In addition to government and academic partners, the Arcola team includes Arup Consulting and compliance specialists Abbott Risk Consulting and third-party certification through the AEGIS certification service. The plan is to use the newly launched Arcola “A-Drive” technology, which produces a new powertrain that meets safety standards and adheres to Scottish Railways regulations. Batteries are also included. The A-Drive is designed with batteries that, in addition to the electric motor and fuel cell and fuel cell storage systems, can be tailored to specific applications. So why are there batteries in the hydrogen-electric train? It is simple. A-Drive batteries enable regenerative braking, which includes capturing and storing kinetic energy for reuse.
The goal is to deliver a fully valid hydrogen train in just 10 months and a fresh start. The plan is for Arcola to turn one of ScotRail class 314 passenger trains into a “ready-to-deploy” R&D platform for consortium partners, backed by Bo’ness Rail and Kinneil.
If all goes according to plan, the next plan is to use the lessons learned to develop a system-level plan to introduce hydrogen trains to the Scottish Railways. And this is where everything gets interesting. De-carbonisation is not just about draining old fuel and introducing new fuel. Life cycle carbon effects also play a role. From a railway perspective, the method of unloading and losing a golden opportunity to use the extra carbon savings by reusing existing old rolling goods is exactly what Scotland has in mind.
“This project could be a game changer for the future of Scottish rail equipment,” explains Transport Secretary Michael Matheson. “Our action plan to eliminate carbon off the railways stipulates that the release of our passenger rail lines is free until 2035, but to maximise climate change targets, it is also necessary to work with retired stocks,” he said. “If we can reuse them in a carbon-neutral way, we will have great achievements in the field of climate.”
Achievements in Renewable Energy
In 2011, Scotland set a green energy target of 100% of the country’s gross electricity demand from renewable energy by 2020. While the country failed to achieve that goal, 97.4% of its gross electricity consumption was still from clean energy sources last year. Scottish Renewables, a business entity for the Scottish renewable energy industry, has grown by 8% compared to 2019 figures.
The industry has generated more than three times as much renewable energy as is enough to power more than seven million households. Wind remains the country’s most important source of renewable energy, although hydropower has grown the most in the past year.
Scottish authorities hope that renewable energy sources will be able to supply 50% of the country’s energy needs through electricity, heat and transport by 2030. The country has achieved much, especially in the transport and heating sectors.
Does Renewable Energy Play a Role in Scotland’s Transport Sector?
Renewable energy technology and its expansion can be considered as an alternative to fossil fuels and a valuable source of income for the Scottish economy. The use of renewable energy technology in addition to supplying energy to the citizens of Scotland provides a reliable income for Scotland. The main condition is that the current Scottish government expands its dependence on the non-oil economy and replaces North Sea oil with new revenue streams such as renewable energy.
“Domestic and commercial transport account for about 25%of Scotland’s energy consumption, with heat accounting for more than half of emissions,” Chief Executive at Scottish Renewables Claire Mack said. At present, renewable sources supply only 6.5% of its non-electric heat demand. “The technologies we need to replace gas in our homes are mostly present right now, but using them across the country is a lot of work,” Mack said. “Industry and government must work together to address challenges so that we can enhance this potential by 2045 and achieve an equitable energy transfer.”
An Independent Scotland can become a very successful country in Europe and be able to run its own affairs. The report prepared by the Scottish National Party entitled ‘Scottish economy and the issue of independence’ is a picture of the strong financial and economic foundations and natural resources and human genius of the Scottish region, all of which will serve the people of the region if full independence is achieved.