Canadian Pacific on the right track with hydrogen locomotives

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Author: Glen Wilson, General Manager, Environmental Risk, Canadian Pacific


June 27, 2022

As a provider of sustainable rail and intermodal transportation services connecting North America and the world, Canadian Pacific (CP) is proud to be an industry leader in climate action. Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and new technologies and approaches are needed to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. CP is responding to this challenge by continuing to adapt its business and build the resilience of its operations to prepare for a low-carbon future.

In North America, shipping goods by rail is the most energy-efficient way to transport goods over long distances over land. In 2020, the transportation sector accounted for approximately 27% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canada and the United States; however, freight transportation by rail accounted for only 2.3% industry-wide. Rail is four times more fuel efficient than road transport and generates up to 75% fewer GHG emissions. A single unit train can move more than 300 trucks off public roads, benefiting communities and the environment.

Although the freight rail sector already provides one of the most fuel-efficient means of transportation, systemic and technological advances are needed to further decarbonize the industry. By investing in innovation, fostering new partnerships, optimizing our operations and continuing to focus on the fundamentals of scheduled railroading, CP is already taking significant steps to create a positive impact. As we look to the future of global supply chains, freight transportation by rail will continue to play a leading role in a low-carbon future.

Climate strategy
The transition to a low-carbon economy presents challenges and opportunities for the transport sector. To align CP and our stakeholders as we navigate this dynamic change, we released CP’s first climate strategy in 2021, outlining our approach to managing potential climate-related impacts across the business while capitalizing on low-carbon opportunities.

Two science-based GHG reduction goals guide CP’s climate strategy to guide our climate action through 2030. As our single largest source of emissions, CP is committed to reducing the intensity of GHG emissions from locomotive operation by 38.3% compared to the 2019 baseline. This target trajectory aligns with the best available climate science and has been endorsed by the Science Based Target Setting Initiative (SBTi). To reduce emissions associated with our rail network infrastructure, including buildings, facilities and work equipment – a small but essential part of our carbon footprint – CP is committed to reducing emissions from non-locomotive operations by 27.5% by 2030 compared to a base year of 2019.

Implementation of the climate strategy is led by CP’s Carbon Reduction Task Force and supported by CP’s engineers and industry-leading operations experts. This team focuses internally on decarbonization and assesses potential levers to reduce GHG emissions, including new technologies, alternative fuels and operating practices. As part of this work, CP is formalizing the integration of climate-related risks into our enterprise risk management mechanisms and developing strategies to mitigate risk and increase operational resilience in various climate change scenarios. CP is also focused on industry leadership and partnerships with key stakeholders to deliver on our climate strategy. We recognize that our ability to influence GHG emission reductions extends beyond our operations. We are committed to advocating and collaborating across our value chain in ways that drive climate action.

Hydrogen Locomotive Program
CP has long been a leader in locomotive fuel efficiency, consistently outperforming its industry peers. Through advances in the deployment of locomotive technology, investments in innovation and improved operating practices, we have improved fuel efficiency by 44% since 1990. This same approach to innovation and This focus on efficiency is critical as CP navigates the significant decarbonization needed to meet the goals of our climate strategy.

Freight locomotives are expensive, long-lived assets and undergo frequent upgrades and refurbishments throughout their useful life. Implementing a practical way to convert diesel locomotives to low-carbon operations will be key to sustaining demand for freight rail services in the years to come. To meet this challenge, CP announced plans in late 2020 to develop North America’s first hydrogen-powered line-haul locomotive using a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and battery technology to power the motors. electric traction of the locomotive. After receiving $15 million in funding from Emissions Reduction Alberta in 2021, CP has expanded the hydrogen locomotive program to include the conversion of three line-haul locomotives and the installation of two hydrogen generation and refueling facilities. hydrogen.

Hydrogen production and refueling facilities will deploy electrolyzers to produce hydrogen from water. One of these plants will be located at CP’s Calgary headquarters and will run on renewable electricity from the 5 MW solar farm project which became operational in 2021. This hydrogen production plant will run on energy renewable energy to produce zero GHG hydrogen to power CP’s hydrogen. locomotive.

As the pilot locomotives become operational, qualification trials and road and yard trials will be conducted to assess technology readiness and explore future opportunities for deployment in service. rail freight. With the first locomotive due to be ready for commercial service in late 2022, this initiative has the potential to drive transformation within the industry and generate critical industry knowledge and experience that will inform future commercialization.

This globally significant project positions CP at the forefront of freight industry decarbonization. CP’s program is expected to drive innovation, demonstrate climate leadership and encourage supply chain collaboration to accelerate the advancement of zero-emissions fuel cell technology for the transportation sector merchandise.

Hydrogen Spotlight

Fuel cell/hydrogen battery hybrid propulsion technology is being tested around the world as a viable alternative fuel for the transportation sector, with particular promise for long-haul heavy-goods transportation systems, including rail. The locomotives already operate with hybrid systems using electric traction motors powered by diesel engines. By removing the diesel engine and alternator and replacing them with zero-emission technology, the existing locomotive platform can take advantage of the electrical input from hydrogen to power the traction motors. Deployed in this way, hydrogen fuel cell technology may be able to eliminate GHG emissions from locomotive operations. Additionally, hydrogen power offers additional environmental benefits, including reduced operating noise and vibration and the elimination of air emissions generated by diesel-electric engines.

Sustainable driving
As we continue to embed sustainability principles into our business, we constantly challenge ourselves to improve our practices. This dedication benefits our employees, our suppliers and the communities in which we operate. Our investments in a more sustainable freight transport sector also help our customers achieve their sustainability goals.

As CP plans to merge with Kansas City Southern, which is subject to regulatory approval from the US Surface Transportation Board, to create the first single-track railroad linking the United States, Mexico and Canada, we are encouraged by the opportunity to expand the reach of our sustainability efforts and create value for our customers and shareholders. This combination is expected to avoid more than 1.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions within five years through efficiency improvements and divert 64,000 long-haul truck shipments to rail each year, further eliminating emissions and reducing impacts on highways.

A single unit train can move more than 300 trucks off public roads, benefiting communities and the environment

We recognize that we play an important role in aligning with international frameworks and supporting broader sustainability goals. CP recently joined the United Nations Global Compact initiative, committing to operate in a sustainable and responsible manner that supports human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.

Given the goals and targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have reviewed our sustainability and business strategies to identify areas where we can have a significant impact. We have identified five SDGs and 11 supporting targets aligned with our business through this process, where we believe CP can contribute through internal and external activities.

CP recognizes that operating sustainably is essential to its future growth and continued success. As we look to the future, we remain committed to addressing sustainability challenges, including those created by climate change, and investing in the innovation and practices needed to achieve long-term sustainable growth.

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