alta signs deal with Aurizon and ARENA to deliver world-first battery electric tender


Lauren Nowak

alta Battery Technology (alta, The Company), a pioneer in battery technology innovation for power decarbonisation, has entered a collaboration with Aurizon, Australia's largest rail freight provider, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to deliver create the world’s first battery capable of connecting machinery to renewables, converting them to a hybrid operation.

The project, which has received $9,406,212 funding from ARENA, will see alta design and construct a prototype battery electric tender (BET) utilising The Company’s innovative DC-to-DC converter to connect diesel assets to electric power sources, electrifying Aurizon’s fleet and extending haulage distances by up to 400km.

alta’s DC-to-DC converter is designed specifically for high voltage systems, removing the need for businesses to prematurely replace perfectly good high-cost assets with fully electric systems to meet their carbon neutral and net-zero goals.

In addition to converting the locomotive to a hybrid operation using both diesel and battery electric power sources, the tender’s battery will also harness re-generative energy captured as the train travels down grades and brakes as part of normal operation.

The 1.8MW prototype battery electric tender to be delivered to Aurizon for testing will be built as a 40-foot containerised solution which sits behind the head of the locomotive on a wagon.

BET Diagram
Roy Zou

alta Managing DIrector

“Our partnership with Aurizon and ARENA marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of sustainable energy solutions for heavy machinery”

Rail transport emissions from Australia’s heavy haul freight industry accounts for more than 4 Mt of CO2e, or 0.8% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The bulk of these emissions are in service of Australia’s resource industry, which relies on heavy rail freight haulage to transport commodities from remote mine sites to ports and refineries.

alta Managing Director Roy Zou said that Australia’s heavy reliance on diesel powered locomotives coupled with urgent action required to prevent further climate disasters, means the need for alta’s revolutionary technology couldn’t be greater.

“Our partnership with Aurizon and ARENA marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of sustainable energy solutions for heavy machinery,” Mr Zou said.

“By combining alta's cutting-edge battery technology with the expertise of Aurizon and the financial support of ARENA, we are poised to redefine the landscape of Australia's heavy machinery industries, offering cost-efficient and eco-friendly alternatives.

“We are grateful for the support of ARENA and Aurizon and look forward to working with them to power a cleaner future.”

Aurizon Train

Render of the Aurizon BET.

alta, which forms part of the broader HSG Group, will manufacture the BET in the HSG group’s state of the art facilities with assembly taking place onshore in Australia. All after-market support is provided locally including transport and warranty services.

“Aurizon aims to use battery and hydrogen power sources, or a combination of both, to deliver decarbonised freight solutions for customers across our national footprint, no matter how heavy or how far the freight needs to move,” said Andrew Harding Aurizon’s Managing Director & CEO.

“We know that Aurizon will need different solutions for different hauls and customers. We are committed to making a transition towards net zero operational emissions based on a locomotive fleet that uses zero emissions technologies, is flexible and suited to the challenging Australian conditions in which we operate.

“By delivering a locomotive fleet that can tap into renewable energy sources, Aurizon and the rail industry can do the heavy-lifting in decarbonising transport supply chains in Australia. We are also working to increase the proportion of freight transported by rail rather than road, which would contribute to reducing overall transport sector emissions.

This is not only good for our customers and the economy, it will also deliver environmental and safety benefits for the broader community.”This Project received funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of ARENA’s Advancing renewables program.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the BET project is addressing an emissions challenge in one of Australia’s largest industries.

“The resources industry is a pillar of the Australian economy, but also accounts for a significant share of emissions,” Mr Miller said.

“ARENA is investing in technological solutions that will enable the sector to reduce emissions across its operations.

“Aurizon’s battery electric tender is a world first that hopes to pave the way for the rail freight industry and help the resources sector achieve net zero.”

The prototype’s expected practical completion date is December 2025 with an on-track estimation of January 2026.