Latest Rail News

11.02.15

Trackside solar panels could save Network Rail £30m a year

Network Rail could save £30m a year in operating costs by inviting investors to fund trackside solar arrays, a new report claims.

Calculations from Canadian engineering consulting firm WSP show that if solar panels were able to be installed on half of the trackside land in the UK the scheme could generate 2.44 GW electricity, or around 40% of the electricity Network Rail currently uses to power trains.

The report, On Track for Value, says the scheme could provide Network Rail £150m in savings over the next control period.

Although Network Rail would be unlikely to be able to fund the installation itself, estimated to cost £2.9bn, WSP says it would be an attractive investment to a third party investor.

WSP’s renewable energy expert Barny Evans said: “A scheme like this could generate revenue of £235m in its first year, a return on investment of over 8%. It benefits from having two guaranteed revenue streams – firstly through the Feed In Tariff for renewable electricity but also by selling the electricity back to Network Rail at a reduced rate.

“It’s a win-win situation; the investors get a return and Network Rail could save millions of pounds on their electricity bill and reduce their carbon footprint without spending a penny.”

The findings also suggested that there is a possibility of generating additional revenue streams by maximising the existing space in smaller, Tier 2 stations, through providing retail and entertainment facilities and making them more energy efficient.

WSP’s UK head of rail Julie Carrier said: “Our rail network is under enormous pressure due to decreasing public investment and steadily increasing demand and so delivering value is becoming crucial. It’s a challenge that requires creativity - trackside solar panels and improving tier two stations is just the beginning. Network Rail is a major land owner, with around 122,000 hectares in England alone so there are huge opportunities by making their land work harder for them.”

(Image source: WSP)

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Nickk   14/02/2015 at 11:17

It's hard enough keeping copper cabling safe from thieves - imagine the heyday to be had with free solar panels and their control gear... No scrap merchants needed here!

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