Europe’s first solar powered train tunnel goes live on Belgian high-speed line and the installation’s 16,000 solar panels will be used to provide 50 percent of the energy needed to power nearby Antwerp Central Station and to provide extra juice for both high-speed and traditional trains. The roof of the new station will have 4,400 panels and a capacity of 1MW, enough to provide 50% of the station’s electricity and the development is not dependent on the level of government subsidy for solar power as the £7.3m bill was paid by the transport department’s environment fund………..
16,000 solar panels installed on the roof of a high-speed rail tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium have been officially entered into service. The solar installation is the result of a collaboration between Belgian rail operator Infrabel, renewable energy developer Enfinity, the municipalities of Brasschaat and Schoten, intermunicipal financing companies FINEA and IKA, and solar construction company Solar Power Systems. The project, known as the Solar Tunnel, is the first of its kind in Europe as it is the first time railway infrastructure has been used to generate green energy. The solar energy will be used in the Antwerp North-South junction (including Antwerp Central Station) by the trains and station servicing both conventional and high-speed trains. The installation on the roof of the HSL4 (high-speed line Antwerp – Amsterdam) rail tunnel in Antwerp covers a total surface area of 50,000 m², about the size of 8 football pitches. The solar energy is used to power the railway infrastructure (signalling, lighting, heating of railway stations etc.,) and also the trains using the Belgian rail network. The installation should generate an estimated 3.3 MWh of electricity per year, equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of nearly 1,000 homes, and decrease CO2 emissions by 2,400 tons per year. Looking ahead, 4,000 trains per year – equivalent to one full day of rail traffic will be able to run entirely on solar energy.