• Rail

Progress on hydrogen-powered locomotives in Namibia Progress on hydrogen-powered locomotives in Namibia

The advancement of Africa’s inaugural dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel locomotives is currently in the feasibility and conceptualisation phase, according to Konrad Boshoff, the CEO of Hyphen Technical.

The consortium spearheading this initiative, led by the hydrogen application development company Hyphen Technical, includes TransNamib Holdings Limited, the University of Namibia, CMB.TECH, and Traxtion.

Funding for the project, totalling €9.17 million for the entire scope, including pilot programs and associated research projects, will be sourced from grants, secured loans from partners, and capital from project company shareholders.

Cleanergy Solutions Namibia has already initiated construction at the site near Walvis Bay. Boshoff stated that commissioning is scheduled for July 2025, involving testing and in-service trials using GH2 (green hydrogen). The targeted commencement of revenue operations is November 2025, contingent on various dependencies.

Two U20C locomotives will be converted and operated, with one each acquired from TransNamib and Traxtion Sheltam. The cargo transported will encompass various commodities moving between Kranzberg and Walvis Bay, such as fuel, copper concentrate, sulfuric acid, grain, and smaller volume commodities.

HyRail Namibia, according to Boshoff, presents a distinctive opportunity to showcase and introduce innovative emissions reduction technology by utilizing GH2 to replace diesel in rail transport. He emphasized its potential to revitalize rail transport, making it financially appealing and environmentally friendly compared to alternatives, thereby playing a pivotal role in Namibia’s economic and industrial development.

Boshoff noted that the future expansion of HyRail Namibia will facilitate the uptake of GH2 throughout Namibia’s rail network, enabling more cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation of freight and commodities by rail.

Cleanergy Solutions Namibia is a joint venture between the Ohlthaver & List Group and CMB.TECH, has also laid the foundation for Africa’s inaugural public green hydrogen refuelling station. The hydrogen production plant in Walvis Bay utilizes solar energy for onsite hydrogen production, supplying hydrogen for trucks, port equipment, and railway applications.

This comprehensive project encompasses a 10-hectare solar park featuring a hydrogen production facility equipped with a 5-megawatt Proton Exchange Membrane electrolyser and a 5-megawatt hour battery. By directly harnessing solar energy for hydrogen production, the plant aims to provide a sustainable source for the public hydrogen refuelling station catering to trucks and heavy-duty applications.

Source: Railways Africa