The UK to use renewable energy sources for future electric trains

 In Articles

As energy prices continue to rise, UK industries are turning to alternative energy sources and more effective energy management as a source of relief from rising costs.

The future of railway transportation

Railways are often in the UK National news, usually as a source of constant consumer disappointment, rather than a source for innovation or enterprise. However, recent shifts in government policy have resulted in a new focus on updating the national infrastructure of the Rail industry, and further supporting the use of Rail by UK businesses.

Companies seeking to participate in the national campaign to reduce carbon emissions may not be aware that each freight train journey in the UK effectively removes 60 HGVs from our national road network, instantly reducing congestion as well as pollution. Freight transportation is also 95% reliable and accounts for the transportation of £30 billion worth of goods each year (For more information see: http://www.rfg.org.uk/rail-freight/facts-figures)

A recent report, from the Energy Futures Lab, found that the UK could utilise solar panels connected directly into the railway network to provide 10% of the system’s total power requirements. This use of solar energy would cost significantly less than the energy provided by the national grid.

As recent government plans were unveiled to upgrade large sections of the UK’s rail infrastructure, in addition to the high-speed links already being developed, it seems they have also begun to embrace alternative energy sources for our national transportation system needs.

Part of the commuter rail network, in southern England, where 200 solar farms could be successfully installed have already been identified. As soon as half of them are running, they would supply 15% of the energy required for DC trains.

Alternative renewable energy systems

The director of Energy Futures Lab, Professor Tim Green suggests that collaborative working practices are most effective in delivering cost-effective practical solutions and that powering 6% of London Underground trains through 50 small, over ground solar sites would be worthwhile. North of London, 22 sites have already been identified for solar farms which could provide 20% of the energy requirements of Merseyside Trains.

Not only would alternative renewable energy systems reduce overall consumption and costs for railway companies and hopefully customers, but it would also contribute to the national and global campaign to reduce carbon emissions.

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