Solar panels could be installed in the spaces between railway tracks in world first

Solar panels could be installed in the spaces between railway tracks in world first

Solar panels are being rolled out “like carpet” on railway tracks in Switzerland.

Swiss start-up Sun-Ways is installing panels near Buttes train station in the west of the country in May, pending sign-off from the Federal Office of Transport.

As the climate crisis demands that we speed up Europe’s energy transition, developers have been seeing new potential in unusual surfaces.

But Sun-Ways is the first to patent a removable system, with the help of EPFL, the Swiss federal technology institute in Lausanne.

“That is the innovation,” co-founder Baptiste Danichert tells the Swissinfo news site. And it’s a crucial one since railway tracks need to be cleared from time to time for essential maintenance work.

How are solar panels added to tracks?

A specially designed train will unfurl the panels as it travels along the track.Sun-Ways

The Swiss company, based in the western town of Ecublens, has devised a mechanical system to install its removable solar panels.

A train developed by Swiss track maintenance company Scheuchzer will travel along the rails, laying photovoltaic panels as it goes. It’s just “like an unrolling carpet”, says Sun-Ways.

The specially designed train uses a piston mechanism to unfurl the one-metre-wide panels, pre-assembled at a Swiss factory.

Electricity produced by the PV system will be fed into the power grid and used to power homes as feeding it into railway operations would be a more complicated process.

Source : EuroNews