Feasibility on hydrogen locomotives underway

Chamwe Kaira

The development of Africa’s first dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel locomotives is at feasibility and concept stage, CEO of Hyphen Technical, Konrad Boshoff said.

The consortium led by hydrogen application development company, Hyphen Technical, comprises, TransNamib Holdings Limited, University of Namibia, CMB.TECH and Traxtion.

“Funds will be raised through the grant, secured loans from partners and from capital from shareholders of the project company. The total cost of the entire project is €9.17 million including all work packages for the pilot and related research projects.”

Cleanergy Solutions Namibia has already broken ground on the site outside Walvis Bay. Boshoff said commissioning will commence in July in 2025, where the locomotive will be operated with GH2 for testing and an in-service trial. Planned start of revenue operations will be in November 2025, subject to dependencies.

He said Two U20C locomotives will be converted and operated. One locomotive will be acquired from TransNamib and one locomotive will be acquired from Traxtion Sheltam.

“The target start of revenue operations will be November 2025. The cargo that will be transported includes various commodities the flow between Kranzberg and Walvis Bay, including fuel, copper concentrate, sulfuric acid, grain and smaller volume commodities.”

He said HyRail Namibia provides a unique project to demonstrate, showcase and introduce new emissions reduction technology, using GH2 to substitute diesel on rail transport.

“It has immense potential to assist in revitalising rail transport and position it as financially attractive and emissions reducing service compared to alternatives and play its important role in economic and industrial development in Namibia. The future expansion of HyRail Namibia will ensure off-take of GH2 along the rail network of Namibia and enable cheaper and greener transport of freight and commodities by rail,” he said.

Cleanergy Solutions Namibia is a joint venture between the Ohlthaver & List Group and CMB.TECH and has already announced the bricklaying of Africa’s first public green hydrogen refuelling station.

The hydrogen production plant established in Walvis Bay, Namibia, uses solar energy for hydrogen production onsite. This innovative facility will supply hydrogen to trucks, port equipment, and railway applications.

The Cleanergy Solutions Namibia project includes a 10-hectare solar park with a hydrogen production facility equipped with a 5 Megawatt Proton Exchange Membrane electrolyser and a 5-Megawatt hour battery. This plant directly uses solar energy to produce hydrogen, which is then made available at the public hydrogen refuelling station for trucks and heavy-duty applications.

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