PKN ORLEN and PESA step up cooperation to build hydrogen-powered trains

PKN ORLEN and PESA Bydgoszcz have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to develop a comprehensive offering for public rail transport. Under the agreement, PKN ORLEN will provide hydrogen fuel and refuelling infrastructure for PESA-manufactured shunting locomotives and passenger trains. The cooperation will facilitate development of a carbon-neutral commercial offering for public transport organisers and operators of logistics centres, transshipment terminals and ports.

The agreement was made during the Innotrans 2022 International Railway Fairs in Berlin, where PKN ORLEN and PESA presented a hydrogen-powered shunting locomotive with a mobile hydrogen refuelling station. PESA will place its first hydrogen-powered train in service in 2023.

- We are investing in renewables, including hydrogen, because this is the future of the ORLEN Group. We are effectively implementing a hydrogen strategy that supports our business goals and commitment to achieve carbon neutrality. By 2030, we plan to allocate about PLN 7.5 billion to projects expected to increase the share of low- and zero-carbon hydrogen to nearly a half of our total output. Cooperation with PESA Bydgoszcz is another important step towards commercialisation of this technology. We see a great potential in switching to hydrogen as fuel in rail transport. By tapping this potential in full, we will make a tangible contribution to transforming the Polish railways with the use of cutting-edge technologies. This will directly increase Poland’s energy security and independence - said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN.

Under the agreement, PKN ORLEN and PESA Bydgoszcz will join forces in tender procedures organised by public rail transport operators. PESA will be the supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered trains, while PKN ORLEN will be responsible for the distribution, storage and supply of hydrogen as well as for the refuelling infrastructure for those trains.

- At the present moment, it is no longer the question of whether or not hydrogen-powered trains will be running on Polish tracks, but rather when. In the talks we hold with carriers, the question we get asked most often is how we are planning to solve problems with refuelling hydrogen. That is why the agreement we signed today is so important. This is a clear message to the market that we have secured reliable and stable sources of hydrogen supply for trains manufactured by PESA - said Krzysztof Zdziarski, PESA’s CEO and President of the Management Board.

- For us, the rail market is a very attractive area to deploy zero-carbon hydrogen solutions. The shunting locomotive’s and the train’s daily requirement for hydrogen is, respectively, 170 kg and as much as 260 kg – almost enough to power nine buses. Hydrogen is the future of railways. It is a technology bound to grow fast. By building capabilities in this area, we will be well positioned to meet future challenges - said Józef Węgrecki, Member of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN, responsible for operations.

As part of the cooperation, PESA Bydgoszcz is implementing an innovative hydrogen-powered locomotive project for PKN ORLEN. This is the first step towards developing and using this type of locomotive in logistics. The solution, to be implemented at the ORLEN Group production plants next year, is also of particular importance to hydrogen projects relating to ports. In this area, the Group is actively working to become a hydrogen supplier and to construct hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.

The hydrogen strategy pursued by PKN ORLEN envisages the use of hydrogen in municipal public transport and rail transport. To this end, the Group has signed letters of intent to collaborate with more than 20 municipalities and companies in Poland as potential customers for its hydrogen.

A hydrogen analytical testing laboratory and the first hydrogen hub, which now produces hydrogen for transport, were launched in Trzebinia in 2021. About 10 hydrogen hubs are planned to be put in operation by 2030, including in Włocławek and Płock,
and a hydrogen laboratory is to be deployed at the Research and Development Centre in Płock by 2025. The latter will perform tests and research on dedicated facilities to study hydrogen production, quality, purification, storage and transport.

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