The world’s first solar farm to power a railway line directly is due to plug into the track near Aldershot, paving the way for solar-powered trains. From Friday, about 100 solar panels at the trackside site will supply renewable electricity to power the signalling and lights on Network Rail’s Wessex route. The 30kW pilot scheme could pave the way for a larger project capable of directly powering the trains that use this route from next year. The solar breakthrough comes as Network Rail plans to spend billions of pounds electrifying rail lines to avoid running trains on diesel. This could help reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and costs. The research team behind the project, called Riding Sunbeams, estimates that solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There is also scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester, according to the team. The researchers began work on the plans over two years ago to discover whether bypassing the electricity grid could make solar power a more efficient energy source for trains.
Guardian 22nd Aug 2019 read more »
Travellers journeying by rail between London Waterloo and Weymouth will get a solar powered surprise on the tracks from today, after a solar array in Aldershot becomes the first in the world to directly supply a railway line with green power. The Riding Sunbeams project, the brainchild of climate charity 10:10, is exploring the potential of using solar to power parts of Britain’s railways. The installation, which went live today in Aldershot, is the scheme’s first demonstrator project. It links around 100 solar panels to an ancillary transformer on the railway’s traction systems, with electricity then used to power signalling and lights.
Business Green 23rd Aug 2019 read more »