Reducing the use of fossil fuels in transport is a priority. the train, one of the most efficient modes, becomes greener with a performance based on renewable energies, both in commercial operations and in the supply of diverse facilities, stations and exchangers.
reducing the use of fossil fuels in transport is a priority. the train, one of the most efficient modes, becomes greener with a performance based on renewable energies, both in commercial operations and in the supply of diverse facilities, stations and exchangers.
Reducing the carbon footprint in transport is a priority goal. In any case, the railway is the most respectful mode of transport towards the planet and the one that contributes the most in terms of efficiency. This mode further contributes to minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the use of renewable sources for the energy supply of stations, logistics centres and various facilities, as well as for the operation of both passenger and freight lines.
In recent years, a breakthrough has been seen in this field with the progressive implementation of very innovative renewable energy generation systems, which have allowed the natural resources to establish themselves as a great alternative.
The increase in environmental sustainability has been growing in railway transport with the incorporation of diverse elements such as autonomous railings and street lamps fed by the sun to illuminate stations.
In addition, photovoltaic panels for power generation in tunnels, roofs and other points already feed the operation of many trains with renewable. The commitment to this clean source goes further, with the clear example of some electrified lines where trains run supplied with 100% energy from solar plants. There are also other alternatives such as the different models of hybrid trains, which move with solar energy and fossil fuels.
The wind also joins the sustainable future in transport. In Spain, for example, very innovative systems have been implemented, such as the vertical axis wind turbines in several stations to power the facilities with wind energy.
In European networks and in metros of South America there are also several applications that are already a reality. Many of these fleets run on 100% wind power. The electricity needed for commercial operations comes from wind farms.
To achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2050, transport must be based on all renewable options at its disposal. This is the case with commercial applications of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel for railway traction. In Spain, the first pilot test of a LNG-powered passenger train is being carried out. In addition, there are, at the engineering stage, development projects of prototype-pilots for traction of goods, which rely on European funds.
In addition to natural gas, the railway sector is making progress in the use of other carbon-neutral fuels such as biomethane or green hydrogen. The latter already has its application with the recent launch of the first two hydrogen trains in the world that, in addition, use renewable energies to charge their batteries and incorporate lithium-ion batteries that store excess energy and the power released during the braking process.
Recovery of braking energy
Along with the use of renewable energies, the railway industry proposes solutions to move forward with a more sustainable transport. Among the most outstanding innovations is the technology for the use of the braking energy of trains through reversible electrical substations, which allow it to be returned to the grid. On this path to energy transition there are very significant R+D developments. In Spain it is already possible to recover the braking energy of the trains for electric cars in the so-called “ferrolineras”. These charging points are connected to the rail network in facilities near the station.