Germany funds 25 million for hydrogen trains in Brandenburg

From December 2024, the first journeys with hydrogen trains in the German state of Brandenburg are to take place. The state is funding 25 million euros for the project, which involves acquiring six hydrogen trains, and building a hydrogen production facility and filling station for the trains. The total costs of the joint project amount to approximately 100 million euros.

Germany is continuing the development of regional hydrogen rail infrastructure. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer gave the starting signal for a new project this week at Basdorf railway station, together with representatives from state and local politics. Last April, Scheuer voiced the goal of Germany to become a ‘hydrogen country’.

“We are reactivating the main line of the so-called Heidekrautbahn, we are connecting the outskirts with the city of Berlin – and we are doing it all with 100% green hydrogen”, said Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

Emission-free regional transport

Regional operator Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) will receive funding of around nine million euros for the acquisition of six hydrogen fuel cell trains. These are to be used on the regional train line RB27 from December 2024. “By operating hydrogen-powered vehicles, noise can be reduced and carbon emissions avoided in regional transport”, is how Detlef Bröcker, CEO of NEB, explains the core objective of the project. “The green hydrogen is not only produced entirely from locally sourced, renewable energy, but also enables entirely emission-free regional passenger transport on the Heidekrautbahn across the entire value chain.”

“The hydrogen trains increase the appeal of regional rail transport for commuter transport and tourism, and contribute to the expansion of environmentally friendly, green mobility in the region”, adds Bröcker. “The simultaneous reactivation of the main line of the Heidekrautbahn creates additional, outstanding synergies that can be exploited for climate protection and to promote sustainable local rail passenger transport for the region north of Berlin.”

A NEB train on the Heidekrautbahn

Hydrogen from local windmills

The experienced energy producer Enertrag provides the required hydrogen, which is to be produced fully from renewable electricity locally in the region. The company receives funding of around 13 million euros for the construction of a hydrogen plant.

“We aim to supply our region with hydrogen from wind power. It is the cheapest renewable fuel” says Jörg Müller, CEO of Enertrag. “For the past ten years, our hybrid power plant has shown that electrolysis makes renewable energy easily storable. In the transport sector, which there is an urgent need to emit less carbon dioxide, hydrogen is the ideal complement to electricity. Travelling through Brandenburg by train is certainly twice as nice when the fuel comes from local windmills”.

Filling station

The third partner in the project is Kreiswerke Barnim, a subsidiary of the Barnim district in Brandenburg which links energy and recycling management. They will construct a hydrogen train filling station, which will make the hydrogen produced available at the point of energy demand.

The project is being supported with 2.5 million euros. “Since 2017, we have been working together as a network towards the goal of using the electricity yield from renewable energy plants directly in our region, generating added value and advancing the energy transition. The funding decision sends a strong signal and provides the necessary support for the parties involved so that they do not lose touch internationally in the use of hydrogen and the development of the necessary infrastructure”, says Christian Mehnert, Managing Director of Kreiswerke Barnim.

Scientific research

The research partners BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will provide scientific support for the project. Gaining new insights into the long-term use of hydrogen fuel cell technology in regional passenger transport is a central element in the joint project. It serves as a practical case of using exclusively green hydrogen through direct coupling to plants for the production of electrolysis hydrogen from renewable electricity.

The project “Use of hydrogen fuel cell drives in local transport in the Barnim district” is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure within the framework of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology. The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ).

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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