Monday, April 21, 2008

Transport Electrification

There is a lot of talk here of passenger rail but little discussion of freight. I can't say that I know about the business that much but I wanted to share a few ideas that I had seen that look promising.
The first is a plan thought up by Bruce McFadden over at Docudharma. His idea is to create a backbone energy corridor along freight lines to transport stranded wind.

It should, I hope, be clear that much of the best resource is in areas that do not have the highest electricity consumption. And at the same time, that is a lot of the terrain that the transcontinental freight rail must traverse to get where its going. And, at the same time, we desperately need to get the main freight rail trunk lines electrified, by hook or by crook. Ergo, I got a grossly oversimplified policy proposal to present.

  • The Federal Government invests in publicly owned infrastructure to electrify the main railroad
  • In return, the owners of the right of way cede use of the right of way above the part that they need to public use, together with access to the ground level right of way for support structures
  • That right of way is used to establish long distance High Voltage DC trunk lines to bring sustainable energy from the places that have it to places the need it
  • In areas where there is a commercial wind resource, the usage rights above those trunk lines are available to be leased out for wind farm operators, with the lease payments rolled back into the funding for the program

Some answers to some challenges to the proposal, after the fold.

Another of interest is a plan to reduce energy consumption in 10 years through transport electrification, mostly by electrifying the freight lines by granting property tax waivers for railroads that electrify. It also includes more rail transit and trolleybuses. Alan Drake discusses that plan over at Light Rail Now! I'm not sure how feasible it is, but its an interesting idea to ponder.


Michael said...

Electrification also has the added advantage of capturing increases in efficiency in energy production. When you purchase a diesel locomotive, you are locking in a given level of energy-efficiency (and resulting emissions rate) for the life of the vehicle. When you purchase an electric locomotive, while you are locking in the electricity to motion efficiencies, you will continue to gain the efficiencies from more efficient and environmentally friendly electricity sources. Over the life of a locomotive, many states will reach Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas targets (or at least try to reach them) so transport ought to tap into that development rather than locking in emissions from diesel fuel at current efficiencies.

Brian Bundridge said...

THANK YOU for that video. This is the only major electric freight railroad remaining in the United States connecting the mine to the power plant and it is cut off from all other railroads.

It's really a shame not to have more electric railroads out here but with Caltrains electrification project coming up soon, we'll hopefully see a jump in the projects