Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

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.


7 Responses to “Solar-Powered Rail: It’s A Reality In France,The Netherlands And The UK”

  1. Phoenix Woman said

    Not only is it coming, in many places it’s already here.

  2. jo6pac said

    This is cool but I’m afraid here in Amerika we’re headed back to coal for trains. It’s amazing what’s being done around the world and here it’s a struggle. I’m trying to buy a small free stand solar system for the house I rent, something just big enough to run a well.

  3. Stormcrow said

    This is cool but I’m afraid here in Amerika we’re headed back to coal for trains. It’s amazing what’s being done around the world and here it’s a struggle.

    Hell, this is America, the Land That Time Forgot.

    But I’m afraid we’ll be going a little further back than coal. We’ll go all the way back to the P-T extinction before we’re done.

    • Charles II said

      In extinction events, dinosaurs go first. And since dinosaurs are our problem….

    • Phoenix Woman said

      The people behind the Missouri bill must not know or care that the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that creationism is a religious construct, and therefore cannot be taught as science. That’s what tripped up the Fundies who’d captured the Dover school board in Pennsylvania (and who were voted out in the next election: ). Somehow I don’t think a state legislator’s redefining science to mean whatever he wants it to mean is gonna fly.

      Meanwhile, even in the US, wind and solar march on — and a big reason why is because Wall Street recognizes the costs of coal. It’s a lot easier to get bank financing for wind and solar projects than it is for coal burning plants, and that’s been the case for nearly a decade.


    • Phoenix Woman said

      And it turns out that the bill in question is sitting in committee, where it will likely die an ignominious death.

  4. Dr Green said

    Railways are one of the most used modes of transportation and leave a large carbon imprint on the environment. Other countries should also follow suit and try to do their bit to reduce the harm on the planet by switching over to great ideas such as this one.

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