Could solar-powerered trains be the future?
Thursday November 7th, 2019
Pioneering Basingstoke companies have spearheaded a world-leading project – the connection of solar panels directly into electrified rail routes to power trains.
Basingstoke Energy Co-operative took a leading role in the design and implementation of the system known as Riding Sunbeams. Network Rail engineers, also based in Basingstoke, led the way in developing the technology and providing the trial site in Aldershot.
Until now, direct supply of solar power to rail traction systems had never been done. That is until a partnership of 10:10, Community Energy South, Network Rail and Basingstoke Energy Co-operative (Bes Co-op) got together to realise that dream.
The dream of directly connecting the railways to renewable energy took root just over 3 years ago when, with UK Government funding, the climate change charity, 10:10, teamed up with Imperial College to sketch out some designs for the technology required.
The dream moved closer to reality 18 months ago when Bes Co-op was asked to look at the technical and financial feasibility of building three large scale (2MW plus) solar farms across Hampshire and Sussex. Bes Co-op worked with 10:10, Network Rail (NR) and Ricardo to refine and develop the technical specifications of the technology required.