Although trains are more energy efficient than automobiles, they have their own effects on the environment. They produce nitrogen dioxide, CO2 and other pollutants that can contribute to air pollution and have negative health effects.
In this regard, countries are trying to find a greener form of energy than diesel. Now some trains in a small part near Aldershot run on a railway line powered entirely by the world’s ‘first’ solar farm (to power a railway line).
There are around 100 trackside solar panels which only generate a total of 30kW of power, but this is enough to power signaling and lights on Network Rail’s Wessex route. It is hoped that this small 30kW project could pave the way for a larger project capable of directly powering trains using this route from next year.
The project, called Riding Sunbeams, is being developed by the charity 10:10 Climate Action in conjunction with Imperial College London, to charge its rail lines across the country with solar energy. The team says renewable energy could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool and 15% of suburban routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex as well as solar trains in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester.
It is not only a greener form of energy than diesel, but it could also provide cheaper energy than natural grid electricity, which would reduce costs for the railways.
There are several stations in the UK that are already solar powered. However, this is the first time a solar panel will bypass the electricity grid to plug directly into a railway’s “traction” system, according to the Guardian.
The researchers analyzed all the data to see how it might be possible to plug in large solar platforms to power UK trains. Passengers and communities close to the railway will have the opportunity to invest in the idea. The goal is to build and connect the world’s first large-scale, community- and commuter-owned “solar traction farm” by the end of 2020.