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Author Topic: Solar powered railway infrastructure - a first?  (Read 437 times)
grahame
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« on: August 24, 2019, 05:09:35 am »

From the Mail Online

Quote
World's first solar-powered train line is turned on in Hampshire with 100 panels providing energy for lights and signalling systems

A solar farm of more than 100 panels in Hampshire has been plugged into a stretch of track in Hampshire in a world first. 

The stretch of track near Aldershot was today receiving 30kW from a nearby solar farm.

The renewable electricity will be used to provide energy for the signalling and lights on Network Rail's Wessex route.

It is hoped it can be the first step in establishing the necessary infrastructure for trains that are directly powered by solar energy.


Need to be careful in reading the claims - it's the signalling and lighting being done by solar panels in Hampshire - there is already a solar train in Australia, as previously covered.  And of course a proportion of the National Grid feeds are solar (with the now significant renewable contribution) anyway. 

The Byron Bay Railroad Company has now carried over 100,000 passengers between North Beach and Byron Beach. Trains run hourly from 10.00 to 17.00, taking about 10 minutes for the 3km trip; speeds are similar to those achieved on a British heritage railway. The route is mostly very straight and very flat.

The company describes its operations as 'carbon positive'. Solar panels on their operational buildings produce up to 30kW, and those on the roof of the train can provide an additional 6.5kW; there is a significant energy surplus. The train also recovers about 25% of its energy through regenerative braking. The 77kWh traction battery holds sufficient energy for 12-15 runs without recharging.

The service is provided by a single two-car NSW class 600/700 unit, consisting of railmotor 661 and trailer 726.  One of the Cummins NT855-R2 diesel engines has been removed from 661 to make space for the battery; the other is retained as a backup.

These units may be particularly suitable for this mode of operation: they were built at Chullora Workshops (which had expertise in aircraft fabrication having built Bristol Beaufort bombers during the war) and consist of an aluminium body bolted to a lightweight steel frame.

Could this technology, or a version of it, be used in Britain?
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martyjon
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2019, 05:57:22 am »

You were right to put the ? in the thread heading Grahame.

I have seen solar panels at locations where there are PW speed restrictions which I assume provides power, via a storage battery, in the hours of darkness to illuminate the permanent speed restriction board/sign. I have also seen small wind powered generators at locations doing the same job.

Of course in the days of semaphore signalling these signs would be illuminated by an oil lamp maintained by the local PW gang.

They could be powered by mains electricity but in the event of a mains failure they would blackout and whilst a train can be talked past blacked out signals as a safety measure the speed restriction needs to be illuminated at all times during the hours of darkness.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 06:02:56 am by martyjon » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2019, 07:47:42 am »

There are a number of renewable and energy storage assessments being undertaken in the 750V dc area.  Some schemes are looking at providing power for signalling, access lighting etc.  There are a couple of schemes looking at augmenting existing traction power, there are a number of lines where the existing systems need an increase in power in the peaks which in reality are a few longer or more frequent trains in the morning and evening over an hour or 2 but the rest of the day the service is light.  It has been difficult to justify major renewal or enhancement in some case the practicality of doing the work, in some cases the existing equipment is not life expired.

It is fairly early days, most of the sales hype from some suppliers has been overcome and a degree of practicality and reality is being developed
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
stuving
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2019, 10:16:38 am »

There is the rather obvious problem of "temporal mismatch" - morning and evening peaks for traction demand are not during daylight hours all year, and as for lighting demand in general... So to be useful it needs a big battery to store the energy until needed ... in which case the "direct from sunbeam to rail" factor has been diluted and the infeed might as well not go to the railway at all. Which is true in any case; while local infeed sounds better (for a start it's potentially more efficient), it does cause problems of control and security of supply which are likely to outweigh that. But hey, it's an experiment, let's (or let them) just see how it goes.
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2019, 12:00:54 pm »

There is the rather obvious problem of "temporal mismatch" - morning and evening peaks for traction demand are not during daylight hours all year, and as for lighting demand in general... So to be useful it needs a big battery to store the energy until needed ... in which case the "direct from sunbeam to rail" factor has been diluted and the infeed might as well not go to the railway at all. Which is true in any case; while local infeed sounds better (for a start it's potentially more efficient), it does cause problems of control and security of supply which are likely to outweigh that. But hey, it's an experiment, let's (or let them) just see how it goes.

"Pump storage systems" are to ones being looked, not only to capture renewable like sola also regen braking energy; dc trains tend to dump the energy as heat via resistors once away from London as there is very little in the way of a receptive load
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
stuving
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2019, 12:27:20 pm »

Sorry - what I said mixed up some different points. If a Big Battery is useful to meet "peak" loads (and DC traction is very peaky), both short-term (all day) and peak-hour, you'd probably want to recharge it off the mains and not just your local PV. So the question of where you feed any local generation into is pretty much the same as for the rest of the network - and for any big electricity user who does it.

Local generation and its control have much wider implications; we saw two weeks ago how embedded generation can be destabilising while battery storage, whether known and linked to network control or not, is stabilising.
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