Aurizon to develop “battery wagon” to start the decarbonization efforts

Aurizon to develop “battery wagon” to start the decarbonization efforts

This initiative is part of an $18.8 million project titled ‘Battery Powered Tender for Heavy Haul Fleet Decarbonisation’.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has allocated $9.4 million in funding to Aurizon Operations Limited for the development of a battery electric tender (BET). This initiative is part of a project titled ‘Battery Powered Tender for Heavy Haul Fleet Decarbonisation’. The initiative serves as an effort to incorporate electric power into diesel-electric locomotives, creating a hybrid configuration aimed at the decarbonisation of Australia's resources industry.

The project entails the creation of a BET prototype, a specially designed wagon equipped with a 1.8 MWh battery. This innovation has the potential to start a transition from diesel to electric power, especially when used in conjunction with modified diesel electric locomotives. Furthermore, the initiative could see significant adoption across approximately 50% of Aurizon’s commercial routes, once integrated with future Battery Electric Locomotives, offering a cleaner alternative for energy consumption in rail transport.

© Aurizon
© Aurizon

Electrifying rail freight through battery electric technology presents an opportunity to leverage existing rail infrastructure for a greener future, circumventing the need for costly railway line electrification. Alta Battery Technology, in partnership with Aurizon, will lead the design and construction phases of the BET in Australia, aiming for the prototype to enter trial operations by early 2026. This collaboration will also see the installation of necessary charging infrastructure at an Aurizon customer site, with engineering firms providing consultancy services for the project.

Aurizon, as Australia's leading rail freight operator, oversees the movement of over 250 million tonnes of commodities annually, employing around 700 locomotives and more than 15,000 wagons. The rail transport sector is responsible for over 4 million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually, attributing to 0.8% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly in service to the resource industry. This sector's heavy reliance on rail freight for the transportation of materials from mines to ports and refineries underscores the importance of transitioning to more sustainable energy sources.

© Aurizon
© Aurizon

ARENA's investment in this project underlines the agency's commitment to supporting technological advancements that aim to reduce emissions across various operations within the resources sector. As the project progresses, its design and trial phases will be closely watched by industry stakeholders, marking an important step towards achieving lower emissions in one of Australia's critical industries.

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