In June Belgium introduced the first solar train to the world.

A public-private consortium consisting of Belgian rail management company Infrabel and solar developer Enfinity has installed 16,000 solar panels on the roof of a 3.4 km (2.1 miles) long tunnel between Antwerp and the Dutch border, creating enough electricity to power 4,000 trains a year. This includes both conventional and high-speed trains. The 3.3 gigawatts of solar energy each year is used to generate power for the trains and the infrastructure (signalling, lighting, heating of railway stations etc.,).

The project is based on an average of 900 hours of sunlight a year.  The total cost of the project is 15.7 million euros ($22.12 million).

Enfinity says that by cutting out the middle man, the grid operator, it can offer electricity about 30 percent cheaper.  Infrabel benefits from being able to sell cheaper electricity to its customers, which include the Belgian railways and private high-speed operator Thalys.

 

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