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San Francisco train service plans to run solely on clean energy


Commuter trains are already somewhat eco-friendly by their nature (you're less likely to need a car, after all), but the San Francisco Bay Area's train system is taking things one step further. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) hasunveiled a policy that will gradually move it to completely renewable energy. It starts off modestly by limiting CO2 emissions now through 2024, but the plans will be more aggressive after that. At least half of its energy will have to come from renewable sources by 2025, with 90 percent of it from low or zero-carbon sources. All of it will have to be zero-carbon by 2035, while complete reliance on renewable sources would come by 2045.

This isn't exactly an overnight revolution, then. However, BART notes that it would actually outperform California's plans for a standard of 50 percent renewable energy use by 2030. Also, any improvements will likely make a tangible impact on the state. BART uses more power than the entire city of Alameda (over 400,000MW/h per year) -- even that 2025 target might help a lot. It's also important to note that BART expects to run both trains and its infrastructure on green energy sources. The area's Caltrain service has already made its own pledge to use renewable energy, but it's still using diesel trains where BART's vehicles are completely electric.

Only some of this will come through in-house energy generation (primarily through solar power), since BART just wouldn't have the capacity to meet all its own demand. Most of it will come by purchasing energy from the grid. There will be a certain point at which you can ride the train largely guilt-free, however, and whatever BART accomplishes might help other transportation networks achieve their own renewable energy goals.

GM and Honda will mass-produce hydrogen fuel cells together

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Just weeks after the car and energy industries began their big push on hydrogen, the first real action is being taken. General Motors and Honda have leapt into bed together to begin work on a new factory that'll mass-produce hydrogen fuel cells for their vehicles. Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) will be based at GM's electric vehicle battery site in Brownstown, MI (pictured), and is expected to start work in 2020.

The partnership between GM and Honda has been in place for several years after the pair signed a development agreement back in 2013. Each one will kick in $85 million to equip the joint venture and hire around 100 engineers to run the plant when it begins operations. The pair hope that combining their efforts will result in cheaper fuel cells thanks to economies of scale that mass-producing these cells provide.

Both companies are pushing fuel cell technology as the futuristic alternative to gasoline, citing the lack of emissions, range and quick refueling times as the benefits. The release also repeats the wonky claim that "water vapor is the only emission from fuel cell vehicles." Which, as we know, is only because the emissions take place where the hydrogen is sourced, rather than when it is consumed.

For instance, the cheapest way to procure commercial quantities of hydrogen is using natural gas to reform methane into hydrogen. But this process releases carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, which isn't exactly the most healthy thing to do. Also, methane leakage from this process is similarly dangerous, since methane is a much nastier greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.



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