London’s Blackfriars central railway station, which spans the iconic River Thames, will be fully operational for passengers this month with two new entrances, four new platforms, and a new London Underground station.
Network Rail – which is doing the rebuilding – said the new station’s roof will be home to about 4,400 solar panels that are expected to generate up to 50 percent of the station’s energy needs. The solar panels for the Blackfriars station were funded by the UK Department of Transport’s safety and environment fund.
The solar panels – manufactured by Panasonic, but designed and installed by Solarcentury – will cover an area of about 6,000 square meters, making the Blackfriars the largest solar bridge in the world.
The bridge is expected to generate about 900,000 kilowatts of electricity every year, and save over 500 tons of CO2 annually. Work on the bridge is expected to be completed later this year.
“Blackfriars is the first bridge over the Thames since the 13th century London Bridge to generate its own power. The old London Bridge used waterwheels to drive water pumps and grain mills,” said Solarcentury.
“We’ve rebuilt Blackfriars on a 125 year old rail bridge, creating a 21st century, solar-powered station on Victorian foundation,” said Paul Byrne, National Rail senior program manager for Blackfriars in a statement.
“The bridge was stripped to its foundations and reconstructed wider and stronger to house platforms, a 250 meter-long roof, and the world’s largest bridge-based solar array,” added Solarcentury, which also said, “The work forms part of a wider upgrade of the Thameslink route, running from Bedford to Brighton through central London.”
“First Capital Conenct customers on this route will benefit from longer trains and more frequent services, with metro-style trains every 2.5 minutes through central London during peak times,” added Solarcentury.
Outside of the UK, earlier this year about 16,000 solar panels were laid on top of a train tunnel in Belgium for trains traveling from Paris to Antwerp.
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