Solar Tunnel To Power 4,000 Trains AnnuallyEurope’s first “solar tunnel” is providing power to high-speed trains running between Paris and Amsterdam.
The 3.6-kilometer (2.2-mile) tunnel, built to protect trains from falling trees as they pass through an ancient forest near Antwerp, is covered with solar cells and could generate 3.3 MWh of electricity annually. Enfinity, the company behind the project, says that’s equivalent to the average annual consumption of nearly 1,000 homes. It also claims that the tunnel will decrease CO2 emissions by 2,400 tons per year.
“For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don’t attract the protests that wind power does,” Bart Van Renterghem, the UK head of Enfinity, told the Guardian.
“By using electricity generated on-site, we eliminate energy losses and transport costs,” Enfinity chief executive Steven De Tollenaere, told AFP.
Enfinity has said there had been plans afoot to introduce similar solar infrastructure in the UK but recent cuts to financial incentives would make the projects “unviable.”
“Apparently the UK Government is more concerned about the Treasury than the mid and long-term carbon reduction objectives that we have,” van Renerghem said. “Personally, I think it is short-sighted.”
Energy minister Greg Barker MP said in response: “We want to create a long-term platform for growth. Now that does mean that, in the short term, large-scale schemes aren’t going to get the sort of funding that we see in Belgium currently. There are a lot of exciting things in solar but we have got to think it through so that we get good value for the bill-payers as well as a great deal for the solar pioneers.”