The new Blackfriars station in the UK - which is being built on a bridge spanning the River Thames - is on its way to becoming the world's largest solar bridge as Solarcentury begins the installation of over 4,400 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The Victorian bridge, built in 1886, is the foundation for the new Blackfriars station, which is being upgraded by Network Rail to cater for more passengers and an improved train service. A new roof, added to the historic structure, will incorporate over 6,000m² of PV panels, creating the biggest solar array in London by mid 2012.
The solar panels will generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity every year, providing 50% of the station's energy and reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year. In addition to solar panels, other energy saving measures at the new station will include rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting.
Lindsay Vamplew, Network Rail's project director for Blackfriars, said: "We're creating a spacious, modern station and delivering a vastly improved train service for passengers, while at the same time installing London's largest solar array to make Blackfriars more environmentally-friendly and sustainable. The Victorian rail bridge at Blackfriars is part of our railway history. Constructed in the age of steam, we're bringing it bang up to date with twenty first century solar technology to create an iconic station for the city."
The company behind the solar engineering and installation is London-based Solarcentury, who worked with engineers Jacobs to incorporate solar PV into the station design. The high-efficiency solar modules used are manufactured by SANYO Electric Co. Ltd.
"Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape and it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. Unknown to most, there are many hundreds of buildings now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future."
The only other solar bridge known in the world is in Brisbane, Australia. The Kurilpa Footbridge was constructed in 2009. Earlier this year 16,000 solar panels were laid on the top of a train tunnel in Belgium, for trains travelling from Paris to Antwerp. The electricity produced was equivalent to that needed to power all the trains in Belgium for one day per year.
Source and top image: Solarcentury