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Solar Used in Part of England Rail Project

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

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Solar is further being adapted for use in the powering of railway lines: Roughly 100 solar panels have been installed near a train station in Aldershot, in southeast England, a venture that will directly power a nearby railway line, a first in the U.K.

According to CNN Travel, the 30kWp solar panels, installed by enterprise Riding Sunbeams, will be used to power signaling and lights. If successful, the project could help pave the way for larger endeavors.

Solar Rail Project Details

The solar panels were plugged into Network Rail’s Wessex route, a move that is part of the company’s larger plans to invest heavily in cutting diesel from powering rail lines by 2040. This could result in cutting pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and costs.

What makes this project special is that although there are already other rail lines using solar, specifically largely for train station operations, this project has the solar array directly linked up with the railway’s traction system, bypassing the grid. According to The Guardian, Riding Sunbeams surmises that solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, along with 15% of commuter lines located in Kent, Sussex and Wessex.

Investigation into whether bypassing the grid with solar would make the latter a more energy-efficient energy source began more than two years ago. Riding Sunbeams Director Leo Murray noted that future projects could be community-owned, a move that would allow benefits to go to local community funds. Riding Sunbeams is also currently aiming to connect a full-scale community-owned solar farm to U.K. railways by the end of 2020.

Murray specified to CNN Travel that the endeavor will be in a position to link up a “megawatt-scale solar farm with our pilot cohort of about five or six community owned solar farms.”

Currently, India has 250 trains that draw energy from solar panels mounted to the roof of the train, but there are further plans for development, as the weight of the panels means the train consumes more energy. Otherwise, some other U.K. trains are being adapted to run on fuel cells and other forms of energy.


Tagged categories: EU; Europe; Green Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Rail; Solar; Solar energy

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