TransNamib is preparing to launch Africa’s inaugural hydrogen pilot project.

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In the near future, TransNamib is preparing to launch Africa’s inaugural hydrogen pilot project. If the strategy unfolds as intended, a pair of locomotives undergoing conversion within Namibia and South Africa will employ a blend of environmentally-friendly hydrogen generated in Namibia, along with conventional diesel fuel

The troubled national railway operator verified on Monday that it is currently awaiting funding approval from the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL). The center will provide written confirmation of the project’s fund allocation timeline after TransNamib successfully secured a spot among four chosen candidates for pilot initiatives that were unveiled last year, with a total value of 7.63 million euros (equivalent to around N$155 million). The collaboration for this project involves Hyphen Technical, CMB.TECH, TransNamib, and other partners, all of whom are committed to spearheading the advancement, experimentation, and implementation of the cutting-edge locomotive technology. The initiative encompasses a pair of locomotives converted to run on hydrogen, in addition to a hydrogen fuel tender wagon and accompanying components.

“One locomotive each from South Africa and Namibia will undergo conversion at the TransNamib workshop. The project’s planning and schedule are prepared for execution pending funding confirmation. TransNamib’s spokesperson, Abigail Raubenheimer, expressed confidence in the organization’s capacity to successfully carry out the project,” according to a statement from TransNamib.

SASSCAL stands as a collaborative effort involving Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany, established to address the issues arising from global changes. This initiative is focused on research related to climate change adaptation and sustainable land management.

“Considering that the carbon emissions of rail transportation are already significantly lower than those of road transport, this could further enhance our competitive edge in freight movement within Namibia, with a reduced environmental impact. Moreover, it might potentially position us strategically to offer this vital technology locally to the entire African continent,” she clarified.

Completion date for the hydrogen pilot project.

Raubenheimer elaborated that the pilot and research endeavors are anticipated to span a duration of 24 months for their completion. The dual-fuel locomotive initiative represents one of the endeavors undertaken by the railway operator to extricate itself from financial challenges, as it has not recorded any profits since its establishment. Throughout the period from 2010 to 2017, the company accumulated losses exceeding N$4 billion.

In the meantime, the spokesperson emphasized the company’s urgent requirement for investment to enhance its ability to generate revenue.

As long as significant funding remains out of reach, Raubenheimer pointed out, the company’s current course will persist.

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