ORLEN acquires Poland’s first hydrogen-powered locomotive and commences testing phase
ORLEN has been consistently developing hydrogen technology for transport applications. The Group has recently purchased a state-of-the-art locomotive from PESA Bydgoszcz, making it the first hydrogen-propelled rail vehicle in Poland. Concurrently, the testing phase has commenced. As part of the operational tests, the locomotive made its maiden voyage between Gdynia and Hel. This marks yet another project aligned with the ORLEN Group’s hydrogen strategy to use hydrogen in rail and public transport. The Group plans to invest PLN 7.4bn by 2030 in hydrogen technologies based on renewable energy sources and waste-to-hydrogen technology.
‘As part of our strategic goals, we are actively pursuing business projects that not only contribute to our sustained growth and strong presence in Europe but also align with our strategy to enhance energy security for the people of Poland. Central to this process is the advancement of alternative fuels, particularly hydrogen. We are investing billions of złotys in cutting-edge hydrogen technologies. The purchase from PESA Bydgoszcz of Poland’s first hydrogen-powered locomotive marks a big step in the commercialisation of the technology and fortifying our position in a sector that undoubtedly is the future of mobility. Through this investment, we will acquire the essential capabilities required to develop a comprehensive hydrogen fuel supply offering for customers in the railway market. Our efforts represent a tangible contribution to the transformation of the Polish railways through the use of cutting-edge technologies. At the same time, we are investing in zero-emission public transport, expanding our network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Poland and abroad,’ said Daniel Obajtek, ORLEN’s CEO and President of the Management Board.
The hydrogen-powered shunting locomotive acquired by ORLEN is slated for future operation at its Production Plant in Płock. Testing of the locomotive has already commenced, with its maiden voyage taking place between Gdynia and Hel. The contract between ORLEN and PESA Bydgoszcz includes a four-year maintenance and servicing package encompassing routine maintenance and potential repairs. At 175 kg, the tank capacity of the locomotive exceeds that of a hydrogen-powered bus by over fivefold, enabling it round-the-clock operation. The traction system features two 85 kW fuel cells, a battery, and four traction motors.
The ORLEN Group is actively expanding its hydrogen potential, and the rail market presents a highly attractive area for the deployment of the fuel. ORLEN and LOTOS Kolej plan to gradually transition their locomotive fleet to hydrogen power, starting at the Płock Production Plant and extending to other locations. In the longer term, the Group’s strategic focus will be on developing a hydrogen sales market and building a network of hydrogen refuelling stations dedicated to railroad vehicles.
In line with its hydrogen strategy until 2030, the ORLEN Group is also expanding its network of 24/7 hydrogen refuelling stations, both within Poland and internationally. In 2021, ORLEN launched Poland’s first automotive-grade hydrogen production hub, supplying hydrogen fuel for over a year to a pilot hydrogen refuelling station in Kraków, where hydrogen-powered buses from various manufacturers are undergoing testing. Later this year, hydrogen refuelling stations will be available for motorists in Poznań and Katowice. By mid-2025, ORLEN plans to have more hydrogen stations in operation in Bielsko-Biała, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Wałbrzych, Kraków, Włocławek, Gdynia, Piła, and Warsaw. In the Czech Republic, motorists can already refuel with hydrogen at ORLEN Benzina stations in Prague and Litvinov. Over the next seven years, the ORLEN Group’s network will expand to encompass over 100 hydrogen refuelling stations, including approximately 57 in Poland, around 26 in Slovakia, and approximately 28 in the Czech Republic.
To ensure the highest quality of its hydrogen fuel, the ORLEN Group has established specialised hydrogen laboratories in Trzebinia and Włocławek, which are the only ones in Poland capable of testing all hydrogen parameters required to power fuel cells in vehicles.
ORLEN has also assumed a leadership role in two Hydrogen Valleys: the Mazovian Hydrogen Valley, established in 2022, and the Amber Hydrogen Valley, encompassing the Province of Gdańsk, created this year by an international consortium of 11 entities. The Amber Hydrogen Valley project is the first in Poland to receive certification from Mission Innovation and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership as a flagship hydrogen valley project.
The plans for the Amber Hydrogen Valley include the launch of several sources of renewable hydrogen production, the construction of a hydrogen refuelling station in the port of Gdynia, and the deployment of publicly accessible stations in key cities across Pomerania. The project also includes the creation of the world’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered port vehicles to support operations at the port of Gdynia. In addition, investments will be made in dozens of hydrogen-powered vehicles, including passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, for use by courier and grid maintenance companies.