Rails provide solar space

Swiss start-up Sun-Ways is installing removable solar power plants between railway tracks.

In addition to having no impact on the landscape and the environment, the hooking system between the rails allows the rapid mechanical installation and removal of a large number of solar panels. This facilitates the work of installers, but also of railway track maintenance teams.

Because railways are almost universally set at 4’ 8.5” the panel can be uniform, easily installed, and with 260,000 km of railways in Europe, and over 1,000,000 km more across the globe, the potential for generation in clear sky without the need for additional land is immense.

The installation can be done mechanically, using a special train and the installation of a 1000 square metres (1 km) solar power plant only takes a few hours. Once the authorisation have been obtained, it will be possible to quickly install several hundred km of railway tracks by 2025 in Switzerland and by 2030 in Europe.

The electricity produced by PV can be injected directly into the catenaries used for train traction (in the near future) or into the public electricity grid. Swiss rail networks could produce 1TWh of solar-generated electricity per year, or 30 per cent of the consumption of all public transport companies in Switzerland.

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