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Australian State Rail Network To Reach Net-Zero By 2025

Transport Minister announced he is aiming for zero net emissions by 2025.

CANBERRA, Australia — Renewable energy will power New South Wales’ entire rail network within four years in Australia, under an ambitious new government plan.

More than 690,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was pumped out by the rail network last financial year — equating to 1.3 percent of the state’s energy load.

But Transport Minister Andrew Constance, on June 11, announced he is aiming to cut that to zero net emissions by 2025.

“This will be a great step forward in helping our state tackle climate change,” he tweeted. “I have outlined my vision for the entire New South Wales transport fleet to be electric — beginning with the train network being powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy by the end of 2025. This will be a great step forward in helping our state tackle climate change.”

The specifics on how the target will be achieved are still being worked out, said a spokeswoman, but the state will start by offsetting all emissions from stations’ electricity usage by 2022.

Andrew Constance announced he is aiming to cut that to zero net emissions by 2025. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image)

“We are starting this process now and are absolutely committed to reaching this ambitious goal,” she said.

The Minister also announced plans to electrify some of Sydney’s ferries.

The smaller, River Class ferries, which have been plagued by problems and are yet to hit the water, will be retrofitted with electric engines and batteries.

Bigger ferries, like the Emerald Class or Freshwaters, are not yet able to be electrified, as the large batteries required would sink the vessels.

Constance in December announced the state’s 8,000 buses would be transitioned to electric vehicles by 2030.

The smaller, River Class ferries, which have been plagued by problems and are yet to hit the water, will be retrofitted with electric engines and batteries. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

The measures are part of Constance’s broader plan to electrify the state’s whole transport fleet.

As per reports by the Australian Government, Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resource, in 2018-2019, renewable energy sources accounted for 6 percent of Australian energy consumption.

“Renewable electricity generation has more than doubled over the last 10 years, but combustion of biomass such as firewood and bagasse (the remnant sugar cane pulp left after crushing) remains nearly half (45 percent) of all renewable energy consumption in Australia,” states the report.

“In 2019, 21 percent of Australia’s total electricity generation was from renewable energy sources, including wind (7 percent), solar (7 percent), and hydro (5 percent). The share of renewables in total electricity generation in 2019 was the highest since levels recorded in the early 1970s.”

Over the last decade, wind and solar have been the primary drivers in more than doubling renewable generation expansion. A small-scale solar generation grew by 25 percent in 2019 and by an average of 44 percent per year over the last 10 years. Wind generation grew by 19 percent in 2019 and by an average of 15 percent per year over the last 10 years.

 (Edited by Gaurab Dasgupta and Saptak Datta.)