German officials said Wednesday that they have inaugurated the world’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trains, replacing 15 diesel trains that had previously operated on non-electrified tracks in the state of Lower Saxony.

The 14 trains create electricity through hydrogen fuel cells, which powers the engines. The German government has supported the expansion of hydrogen use as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

The 93-million-euro ($92-million) initiative, according to state governor Stephan Weil, is a “excellent example” of Lower Saxony’s attempts to green its economy.

The Alstom trains are operated by the regional rail firm LNVG on routes connecting the northern towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde, and Buxtehude.

According to Alstom, the Coradia iLint trains have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph). The trains will save 1.6 million liters (more than 422,000 gallons) of diesel fuel each year by using hydrogen produced with renewable energy.

Currently, hydrogen is created as a byproduct of chemical processes, but Linde, a German speciality gas business, wants to manufacture it locally using exclusively renewable energy within three years.

Source: AP News

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