Hybrid Electric Locomotives Will Utilize 514 Megawatt Hours of Battery Capacity by 2020

August 9, 2011

Locomotives are a key segment of the global transportation industry, with more than 4,000 locomotives sold each year, and the sector represents an opportunity for innovation in fuel efficiency that has the potential to be transferred to other modes of transportation.  Almost all locomotives used today are powered by electricity, either generated onboard through a diesel engine or provided through a connection to the electric grid (third rails or overhead lines).  Hybrid locomotives are an emerging alternative to these approaches that utilized stored energy from batteries. 

According to a recent report from Pike Research, hybrid locomotive sales will reach nearly 500 units during the period from 2011 to 2020, representing an increasing portion of the total market.  The defining characteristic of hybrid locomotives is their use of very large capacity batteries, the development of which Pike Research anticipates could have a positive effect on batteries for other industry sectors.  Senior analyst Dave Hurst states that new sales of hybrid locomotives will require approximately 514 megawatt hours (MWh) of battery capacity between 2011 and 2020.  Most of this capacity will be in lead acid and advanced lead acid batteries, with a portion of the market utilizing sodium metal halide and lithium ion batteries.

“Hybrid locomotives are a demanding application for advanced batteries,” says Hurst, “and innovation in that sector could provide a boost to some of the battery chemistries being tested for other uses, mostly stationary applications.”

While the low-cost batteries used in hybrid locomotives will make their profitability attractive, Hurst points out that their adoption will be driven in large part by their ability to reduce emissions by as much as 80%, and the potential for fuel savings between 15% and 40% versus conventional diesel engines.  Other benefits include reduced noise levels and lower maintenance costs. 

Pike Research’s study, “Hybrid Locomotives”, examines opportunities and challenges in the global locomotive market.  The report provides a comprehensive analysis of locomotives and battery technologies, regenerative braking, government emissions regulations, emerging markets, and key drivers of market growth.  The report includes detailed forecasts through 2020, segmented by key countries and world regions, for diesel and all-electric locomotives, genset locomotives, hybrid locomotives, and battery storage capacity needs.  Key market players are also profiled.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.  The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors.  For more information, visit www.navigantresearch.com or call +1.303.997.7609.

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