The trains of Gran Canaria and Tenerife will be powered by hydrogen. This is the result of the visit made yesterday to the workshops of the German railroad manufacturer Alstom by a delegation of the Government of the Canary Islands headed by the Vice President, Román Rodríguez, and the Minister of Public Works, Transport and Housing, Sebastián Franquis. "The train is a modernizer, transformer and tractor of clean energy such as that generated by hydrogen. It is the future of mobility and the Canary Islands have to get on board," said Rodriguez.
Together with him and Franquis, the insular counselors of Public Works and Transport of the Island Councils of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, Miguel Angel Perez and Enrique Arriaga, respectively, completed the delegation. During the visit to the plant, located in the German town of Bremervörde (Lower Saxony), they detected "the advantages of implementing hydrogen trains in Tenerife and Gran Canaria", in the words of Román Rodríguez.
The also autonomic counselor of Treasury, Budgets and European Affairs detailed that in the projects that the two capital islands have underway fit "medium distance trains, with routes between 55 and 80 kilometers". The top speed they will reach will range between 140 and 160 kilometers per hour.
"The great novelty is that hydrogen would be incorporated as a source of energy, something on which both the Government and the local councils agree. In the Canary Islands we have extraordinary natural conditions for its production and its use is not only positive, from the point of view of decarbonization and the fight against climate change, but also because the production of industrial hydrogen for trains should also be an accelerator towards energy sovereignty," said Román Rodríguez.
Hydrogen is obtained by breaking the water molecule (H2O) in a process that requires energy. If the source to feed this process is clean - wind power, for example - we can speak of green hydrogen.
It is one of the most explored avenues in the current race for decarbonization. To date, the key to making it competitive has not been found, but innovation and research processes have been multiplying in recent years, precisely with the aim of making it cheaper.
There has been talk of trains on the islands for the last twenty years. In that time, the projects have been drawn up, with the definition of the routes and the consequent corrections, and the urban plans to accommodate them. Still in the search phase for the necessary financing, there is enough time for hydrogen to gain prominence as a source of energy with an accessible price.
Alstom has been covering the Buxtehude-Bremervörde line, also in Lower Saxony, since September, and plans to continue adding hydrogen trains to reach fourteen units by next summer. It also has an order to place another 27 trains in the Frankfurt metropolitan area and six - plus another eight optional ones - in the Italian region of Lombardy. Four regions in France will also be served by a dozen hydrogen trains.
The model that the Canary Islands politicians were able to see during the visit is an Alstom Coradia iLint, which can travel up to 1,175 kilometers without refueling, emitting only water vapor and operating with "remarkably low" noise levels.
On Monday, Rodriguez and Franquis met in Brussels to learn about the possible ways of financing to implement the project. Yesterday, the regional minister of Transport pointed out that, regardless of the origin of the funds needed to introduce the train, it "must be managed by the Canary Islands". He also recalled that the Cabildo of Gran Canaria rejected by means of a motion "the possibility of integrating the railroad" of that Island "within the state network of railway transport".
"The construction and operation must be managed by the Canary Islands and its cabildos", added Franquis, who announced the creation of "a regional transport consortium to work politically and technically in the development of this mode of transport in coordination with the cabildos". That, at least, is the spirit of the proposal on which the department he directs is working.