UK Research: Trains Will Be Powered By Solar Energy

solar panels powering trains

Could you imagine trains powered by a completely new solar panel technology? In fact, the latest solar power news is all about the idea of track-side solar panels realized by the Imperial College London along with the climate change charity. Naturally, Solar Panels Company service could not leave this one behind.

The purpose of the announced Renewable Traction Power project is to connect solar panels on the grid to the lines where trains receive their electricity grid for more efficient energy production.

Renewable Traction Power Project

The university researchers claim they would be first ones to explore the unique idea of side-track solar panels for trains, which has all chances to become a demanded technology all over the world.

They are also emphasizing on the project’s necessity due to low electricity grid production in rural areas caused by its limits in both integrating distributed energy generation and supplying power to the train companies.

The project’s leader Leo Murray says: “What is particularly galling is that peak generation from solar and peak demand from the trains more or less match but we can’t connect the two. I actually believe this represents a real opportunity for some innovative thinking.”

Meanwhile, Network Rail spends billions in decarbonizing the UK’s train lines by excluding trained powered on diesel fuel that eventually causes gas emissions and air pollution. solar powered inventions are now one of the best solutions to prevent the following issues and switch to renewable energy sources completely.

According to 10:10, the full switch is expected to be finished by 2050. At the same time, electrifying the country’s train lines can actually save more than £30M and 895,000t of carbon for Network Rail per each year.

New Third-Rail System Technology

During the first stages of the Renewable Traction Power, researchers plan to test the innovation on “third rail systems” providing electricity through power lines located close to the ground and utilized hardly on 1/3 of the UK’s train tracks.

Tim Green, director of Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London, explains: “There are a lot of railway lines running through areas with great potential for solar power but where such existing electricity networks are hard to access. I think that focusing on the basics of integrating distributed energy generators into a railway’s system with the third-rail network brings many benefits.”

Also, be sure to read why solar panels grew in popularity in 2017!

Solar Panel Production for Rail Systems

technology of solar cellsThere are evident pros about using the third rail system, precisely, the DC power from panels go to DC lines and they do not require being converted to AC before. But the real deal is that third rails are frequently used for signaling purposes, so no other source of power should interfere this process.

This and other technical aspects of the projects will be investigated by researchers from Imperial College London and Turbo Power Systems (TPS). The last one is the company that actively works on distributing and managing power in the rail systems.

The other project’s partner – the climate change charity 10:10 – contributes to the research mostly by looking for long-term power-purchase agreements (PPA) in the market. “I think PPA for train line is a great idea,” – said Murray. “And the rural train line is even greater. This will give the project many investment opportunities across the country and further afield.”

The Renewable Traction project is about to start at the beginning of February 2017. The project is funded through Innovate UK’s Energy Game Changers program. The results of its feasibility study are expected later in 2017.