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Blackfriars rail bridge to produce own energy
Blackfriars station in central London is soon to become home to the world’s largest solar bridge, after the last remaining solar panels are installed on the station roof above the Victorian bridge.
Funded through the Department for Transport’s Safety and Environment Fund, designed by Solarcentury and manufactured by Panasonic, the panels will eventually cover 6,000 square metres and will generate 900,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to fulfil up to 50 per cent of the station’s energy requirements. It is hoped that the panels will save over 500 tonnes of CO2 annually (based on the amount of CO2 per kWh produced on the national grid).
Over half of the solar bridge is currently installed, with the remainder expected to be finished in the autumn of this year.
Commenting on the installation’s progress, Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury, said: “Blackfriars will be one of the world's great solar power installations. Architecturally challenging, the project demonstrates just what is possible with this versatile technology in dense urban areas. We’ve been working amongst one of the most complex build programmes in the country, at height, over water and live train lines. It’s a great feeling to be half way there.”
Shigeki Komatsu, Director of Panasonic Eco Solution Energy Management (Europe Solar Business Division), added: “Our HIT® solar panels will soon help provide clean, emission free energy to an important London transport hub. Whilst commuters at Blackfriars station might not notice the solar panels, the solar will play an important role in their travel experience every day. We hope this will have a real impact on the way people see green energy, proving it as reliable, unobtrusive and the energy of today.”
The solar bridge forms part of Network Rail’s newly revamped Blackfriars station, which was stripped to its foundations and reconstructed to house wider and stronger platforms in order to give passengers more space and allow for longer, more frequent First Capital Connect trains.
Network Rail Senior Programme Manager for Blackfriars, Paul Byrne, welcomed the solar bridge, saying: “We’ve rebuilt Blackfriars on a 125 year old rail bridge, creating a 21st century, solar-powered station on Victorian foundations. Blackfriars’ iconic location spanning the River Thames makes it a showcase for the potential of solar power, and an important benchmark for Network Rail as we look to make best use of sustainable technology on the rail network.”
Bakia Mbianyor, First Capital Connect’s Sustainability Manager, also commented, saying: “In terms of CO2 emissions, rail travel is already the most sustainable form of mass transport with 0.1Kg of CO2 per passenger mile. The solar panels at Blackfriars will now allow us to reduce our carbon footprint still further, at one of our most important stations in central London.”
The only other known solar bridge known is the Kurilpa Footbridge in Brisbane, Australia.
More details on Blackfriars solar bridge can be found on Solarcentury’s website.
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