Carbon Valley 2050: the future of rail energy supply in the Hunter Valley

We investigated the strategic options for future rail energy supply in the context of climate change and increasing capacity constraints in the supply of oil. We selected the Hunter Valley rail system as a casestudy to quantify the energy required for the rail task and compare that energy with the regional resources and strategic positions. There is clear evidence linking climate change to threats to public safety. These include extreme weather events, increased range of tropical diseases and reduced food and water security. The rail industry and most of its major industry customers are strongly committed to zero harm policies. If these policies are applied consistently, then rail operators are obligated to take responsibility for their own emissions and develop pathways to zero net greenhouse gas energy use. We examine pathways to zero net greenhouse gas emissions for the Hunter Valley rail network as a case study. We present a concise primer on alternative energy options and analysis of the appropriate scale of infrastructure requirements. We found that biomass, wind, geothermal, CCS and nuclear were all of a viable future scale to supply the required energy demands of the network. Biomass and wind were the only two technologies at sufficient scale and development status to be confidently deployed within ten years in the Hunter context. Two locomotive technology platforms are available with low technology risk; line electrified locomotives powered by carbon neutral electricity and the existing diesel-electric fleet powered by biomass-fuel. The high capital cost of line electrification means that the default technology option is biomass-fuelling of the dieselelectric fleet – unless the likelihood that biomass-fuels are unable to meet cost targets is high. Requirements for biomass supply chain development and hedging against the oil price suggests a proactive role for the rail industry investment in biomass-fuel supply chains and technologies.

Media Info

  • Pagination: 12p.
  • Monograph Title: Rejuvenation and renaissance: CORE 2010: conference on railway engineering, 12-15 September 2010, Wellington, New Zealand

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01517115
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 4 2014 8:08PM