New research highlights the viability and profitability of solar power in trains, subways and trams. A study on the potential of photovoltaic railways has been published.
If one thinks of a European country favored by the sun’s rays, the United Kingdom is not the first name that comes to mind. However, it was from there that a new research project was born to assess the solar potential of transport in this country. Imperial College London, with the NGO 10:10, studied the feasibility and profitability of photovoltaic energy for railway systems. The result? Solar power could provide up to 10% of the energy needed to power trains in the UK. Above all, it could do it at a lower cost than the current one.
The idea of using solar-powered trains is not new to the UK, but the report makes this option more tangible. It’s quite simple – explains 10:10 – solar systems will be installed near railways, in fields or industrial buildings. However, they will not connect to the grid like a normal PV system. Instead, they will be connected to “railway substations” so that trains can directly use the electricity produced.
The report claims that 15% of the suburban network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be directly powered by 200 photovoltaic systems. Solar panels could also supply 6% of the energy needs of the London Underground and 20% of the Merseyrail network.
We recall that in India, they installed solar panels on their trains, reducing diesel consumption by 15%.
The authors of the study are convinced that with the integration of storage systems, the sun could provide energy at a lower cost than that of the electricity grid and “cover a significant part” of the national electricity needs of the roads. railways, subways and trams.
“This study focused on the possibility of combining a typical solar power plant with the energy consumption models of a train.Explains Nathaniel Bottrell, researcher at Imperial College. The good news is that all of this is technically feasible and financially attractive.
But this is not just speculation. The team, in collaboration with the Energy Futures Laboratory, is already seeking funding to create a prototype to be tested in certain communities already interested.