ABB batteries to power German trains in smart mobility move

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Stadler, a Swiss rail vehicle manufacturer, has selected technology company ABB for the supply of lithium-ion battery energy storage systems for installation in German trains.

In addition to the batteries, ABB will also provide energy-efficient traction converters.

The ABB traction converters and lithium-ion-based energy storage systems will be installed on 55 new BEMUs (bi-mode electric multiple unit), which is the single largest order for BEMUs worldwide, for local transport authority NAH.SH. 

The project aims to help reduce carbon emissions and enable energy-efficient and sustainable transportation for German rail operators Nahverkehrsverbund Schleswig-Holstein GmbH in northern Germany and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) in the German capital.

The battery modules will be produced at ABB’s state-of-the-art semi-automated factory in Baden, Switzerland and then combined into energy storage systems in the Traction factory in Minden, Germany.

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The new trains will operate in a partially electrified network, where the longest non-electrified section stretches up to 80 km, which were hitherto served by diesel rolling stock. The use of high power and long-life energy storage systems ensures that the vehicle has the same performance in all operating modes.

The batteries will be charged while the trains are operating in electrified sections and at selected locations of the route, to power the trains when they are in the region where there is no electricity supply on the rail.

The traction converters will ensure the energy storage systems can be charged with 400V or 1,000V operating and charging modes without the need for additional power electronic equipment than what is required for an AC electric multiple unit (EMU) train.

The traction converters will also be installed on more than 600 new underground cars for BVG in Berlin.

Germany’s climate action

The deal comes at a time the electrification of the transport system is considered a priority for countries to achieve carbon emissions reduction targets.

Today, Germany has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to1990 levels and chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to ensure her country contributes to the now binding EU target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030.

In January this year, Germany took further action by introducing a new carbon emissions price in the transport and heating sector.

Despite the carbon emissions reduction milestone achieved by the government and new climate action plans adopted, scientists claim these not enough to meet 2050 targets set under the Paris Agreement.

German’s highest court has even ruled Merkel’s climate action plan as ‘insufficient’. The court argues that Germany needs to set clear goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2030. It argued that while the state had not violated its duty to protect citizens against climate change, the government had nonetheless not set out the timeline for further emissions reductions in enough detail.