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Archive for February 10th, 2013

Solar-Powered Rail: It’s A Reality In France,The Netherlands And The UK

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 10, 2013

Hat tip to a Solar Roadways Facebook page commenter for this story from June of 2011 about the world’s first solar-powered high-speed railway tunnel:

The 3.6-kilometer (2.2-mile) tunnel, built to protect trains from falling trees as they pass through an ancient forest near Antwerp, is covered with solar cells and could generate 3.3 MWh of electricity annually. Enfinity, the company behind the project, says that’s equivalent to the average annual consumption of nearly 1,000 homes. It also claims that the tunnel will decrease CO2 emissions by 2,400 tons per year.

“For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don’t attract the protests that wind power does,” Bart Van Renterghem, the UK head of Enfinity, told the Guardian.

The $22.9 million project uses 16,000 solar panels covering 50,000 square meters (roughly 538,000 square feet), which is about the size of eight football pitches. They will provide enough electricity to power 4,000 trains a year. The first of those trains left Antwerp on Monday, filled with commuters and students.

The trains tap into the solar energy as they pass through the tunnel at 186 mph. The electricity also provides power for lighting, signals and other infrastructure.

In addition to providing power with far fewer CO2 emissions, it looks to be an excellent way to keep the tracks clear — not just of trees, but of any ice and snow that might obtain during the winter months.

By the way, solar-powered rail is now in the UK, with London’s Blackfriars station getting 50% of its power from its new solar bridge.

Solar is coming.

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