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Germany just unveiled the world’s first zero emission train

Germany is introducing a fleet of trains powered completely by hydrogen, which are completely emission free. The trains, which are set to be rolled out in Lower Saxony through 2017 are a world-first and could be revolutionary in the search for transport methods with lower pollution levels.

Not only that, the trains are silent, making them even more suitable for use in built up areas. The only noise comes from the wheels of the train and of course the wind.

So far a fleet of 14 has been acquired, but the train-loving country will be keeping a keen eye on the scheme with a view to replacing some of its 4,000 trains.

The train is powered by large lithium batteries, enabling it to travel up to 140 kilometres an hour. And while there is interest across Europe for the German-built trains, the quest for renewable means of transport in Australia goes on.

Travelling long distances is a fact of life in Australia, accounting for roughly one quarter of our total energy consumption and 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike in Australia, where debates surrounding renewables have fallen along party lines amid the ‘coal is good for humanity’ rhetoric, moving away from fossil fuel use isn’t really a controversial topic in Germany.

The country is a pioneer in wind, biogas, and solar energy, despite having comparatively little of the latter. There had been a move towards nuclear power, however in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to close Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants by 2022.

Overall, Germany generates around one third of its energy from renewable sources, which is one of the highest rates for a major developed country anywhere in the world. Some days, the entire country runs on renewables.

Australia’s percentage hovers somewhere above 10 per cent, despite us having a fair bit more reliable sun than our European counterparts.

This reluctance to embrace new technologies has also flowed through to the transport sector.

The Australian rail network, important though it is, hasn’t received the required degree of investment to move with the times in recent decades. Trains are either diesel or electric powered, and talk of a high speed Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne bullet train network has remained just that: talk.