Solar array feeds railway route in the UK

solar cell
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How well is the UK doing to seal a future of solar powered trains? Will connecting solar power directly to rail networks help meet a good enough share of electricity needs? Eyes are on a pilot scheme going on now and it is designed to plug into the track near Aldershot,

A set up to a railway line directly is making news. It's a 30kW pilot scheme, said The Guardian, on Network Rail's Wessex route. As of Friday, about 100 solar panels at a trackside site were to supply electricity for signaling and lights on that route.

As Gary Cutlack wrote in Gizmodo, this was a first in that it running trains on electricity generated specifically for the job, being , sourced from a trackside installation of panels—cutting out the electricity grid entirely.

Network Rail's resolve to adopt a greener railway is ambitious; plans are to involve spending "billions of pounds electrifying to avoid running trains on diesel," said Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian. Stuart Kistruck, a director for Network Rail's Wessex route, was quoted: "We have ambitions to roll this technology out further across the network should this demonstrator project prove successful."

Ambrose said the Aldershot project marked the first time a was to bypass the "to plug directly into a railway's 'traction' system."

Cutlack on Friday reported that the panel installation of about 100 in total generated 30kW of power, enough for local signalling and lighting, "as long as workmen don't start boiling any kettles."

As for solar farms supporting trains, by next year's end, a team of researchers called Riding Sunbeams has got involved. Priyanka Shrestha, Energy Live News: Their mission is "to explore the potential of connecting solar panels directly into electrified rail routes to power the trains." Their idea for the farm calls for one that is full-scale community- and commuter-owned.

They have been hooking up with community energy groups for feasibility studies on six potential solar sites in the south east of England.

"Direct supply of to rail traction systems has never been done. But it has huge potential—from metros, trams and railways in the UK and around the world," said the group.

Riding Sunbeams estimates solar could power around 20 percent of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool and 15 percent of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex, said Shrestha.

India is already home to 250 trains powered by attached directly to the roof of the train, but it plans to develop its own trackside solar farms. said Ambrose.

As for the researchers behind Riding Sunbeams, they are going by their own findings that solar traction power can work and without the onus of subsidies. "Our research found that solar traction power could provide around one tenth of the energy needed to power trains on the UK's dc electrified routes every year. Not only that, but it also makes sense financially for solar farms and rail operators right now, with no need for public subsidy support. And there's huge potential to make this happen in the UK, and around the world."

Cutlack translated what Friday's pilot run meant for some commuters in the real world: "Trains running on this Wessex route leave from London Waterloo, connecting London to the south west commuter belt, so a tiny, tiny little bit of green energy has been helping trundle people into work from today [Friday], when the system went live."


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Aug 25, 2019
The Solar C0nstant is ~1300 Watts / square meter while the SUN SHINES.

Aug 25, 2019
as long as workmen don't start boiling any kettles.

Damn, if only there were more places they could install panels. You know, like the roadway....oh...wait..that was too "brilliant".

LMAO.
Gobble up, Chicken Littles.

Aug 25, 2019
Track-side solar panels is an excellent idea, which should placate the AGW cultists somewhat. Perhaps a combined method of having solar panels on top of train roofs, as well as trackside should ensure the trains running on a sunny day. Sunshine is free after all.

But wait. What if it's a stormy day with dark clouds hiding the Sun? Will the trains come to a screeching halt? Or will the trains have to switch to diesel until the Sun comes out?
Batteries anyone?

Aug 25, 2019
In Germany there are already solar powered trains powered by trackside solar panels

Aug 26, 2019
bypass the electricity grid


Doesn't actually happen. Electric trains use the grid for regenerative braking - they generate power back when they slow down - so you can't isolate the systems.

In Germany there are already solar powered trains powered by trackside solar panels


You mean, grid powered trains with solar panels connected into the same grid branches.

Aug 26, 2019
Well, if the train's power needs are still dependent on the grid, it must be due to the possible changes in the weather, brakes notwithstanding. I would not like it very much to be stuck on a train in the middle of nowhere on a cloudy, rainy day and the train can't move to the station. LOL
What does a passenger do in such a dilemma?

Aug 26, 2019
Well; this is Germany
Eikka> You mean, grid powered trains with solar panels connected into the same grid branches.

They are masters of engineering
they realised the miles of unused square footage
so they have put solar glass panels over their electric trains
Linked to their grid when the sun goes to bed

Aug 26, 2019
It would be interesting if the solar panels were isolated from the rest of the grid, and only used by the trains when available.

That's because the solar panels cause the opposite problem: too much power when nobody needs it. When the train stops accelerating, the excess power is shunted out into the grid, and when the train starts to brake it adds to the surge of power, so you got greater power variations than before and the surrounding grid has to deal with greater ramping rates.

If the solar panels were to be shuttered (electronically) when the train is not accelerating, then it would help by occasionally reducing the loading on the grid, but then the utilization rate of the panels themselves would be poor and the cost per kWh turns very high.

Aug 26, 2019
Solar powered trains, it's another scam like solar powered roads.
"The world's first solar road has turned out to be a colossal failure that's falling apart and doesn't generate enough energy, according to a report" - Aug 13, 2019
https://www.busin...e-2019-8
"Remember The Solar Road In France? It Was A Disaster" - Aug 14, 2019
https://insideevs...sco/amp/
"The World's First Solar Road Has Officially Crumbled Into a Total Failure "
https://www.scien...-failure

"Politicians will still put money into direct-air capture, solar roads, wave power and hydrogen cars because they all run off the most abundant renewable resource known to politicians: taxpayers' money."

Solar and wind are scams, parasites on fossil fuels.
Intermittent renewables only exist to steal taxpayers' money(through subsidies/tax incentives).

Aug 26, 2019
direct-air capture


Is actually not a bad idea. You need a source of CO2 for synthetic fuels, and you can't keep burning fuels to make CO2, so you got to pull it out of the air.

The energy cost is around 700 MJ per ton of CO2 which contains 0.25 tons of carbon, which can then be synthesized into 333 kg of methane with an energy value of 18600 MJ so the initial cost to capture the CO2 straight out of the air is just 3.7% loss in the end product.

Capturing the CO2 is actually very efficient, and it makes all the sense in the world - since you can't go sticking huge balloons on the tailpipes of cars to collect the gas at the point of production.

Aug 26, 2019
Likewise, for the financial side of it, the cheapest processes to extract CO2 out of air run between $10-35 per ton, so the end cost in the price of synthetic methane is less than a cent per kWh.

Aug 26, 2019
What the Chicken Littles don't get, is that the power grid is nothing without reliability.
It is clearly expressed in this meagre application of solar power. Should someone put the kettle on, then disaster. So, imagine truly trying to run the trains on something so inherently unreliable.

Aug 26, 2019
However, the trains do seem to be running well enough on solar from trackside panels and on train roofs. So I wouldn't knock that part of it. I don't see any future 'bullet trains' with a solar-powered system, though. The main concern is to get from point A to point B without the train breaking down at any place.
So, my next query is: When the train is braking and slowing down, does the excess unused energy get sold back to the Power Grid company? Or is that not a good premise of how that works?

Aug 28, 2019
Track-side solar panels is an excellent idea, which should placate the AGW cultists somewhat. Perhaps a combined method of having solar panels on top of train roofs, as well as trackside should ensure the trains running on a sunny day. Sunshine is free after all.

But wait. What if it's a stormy day with dark clouds hiding the Sun? Will the trains come to a screeching halt? Or will the trains have to switch to diesel until the Sun comes out?
Batteries anyone?

On a cloudy day the solar panels will be less efficient, but they won't stop working completely. So if there are no batteries used, and if there is no backup diesel engine, and if there is not a surplus of solar panels, and if there is not other source of electricity, then the trains will slow down. I assume someone either has thought of this or will think of this at some point in the future.

Aug 28, 2019
So, my next query is: When the train is braking and slowing down, does the excess unused energy get sold back to the Power Grid company?


In many cases, yes. The railway usually has a bulk deal with the utility company, and the price they pay for energy includes a discount for the amount they inevitably return.

Electric trains also have resistor banks with fans, so they can blow the energy up into hot air if needed.

Aug 28, 2019

On a cloudy day the solar panels will be less efficient, but they won't stop working completely.


Well, overcast daylight produces around 1% of the power, so it's just as well as not working. Likewise, if you have 50% cloud coverage, you can expect to have only 50% of the power.

Though actually the power varies quite a lot depending on how the clouds move, so you get rapid power fluctuations which are difficult to deal with.

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