If you travel by train either on a regular basis or to make the occasional journey and look out of the window you cannot fail to notice that there is quite a bit of space along the side of the tracks. Could some of this space be used to install solar arrays on it?
In a report by consultancy firm WSP it has been suggested just that. One benefit is that it could save Network Rail a significant sum of money – many millions of pounds each year. The electricity that these solar panels produce could be used by Network Rail with any spare power being made available elsewhere.
It has been estimated that around half of the available space could be used to install solar arrays in strategic locations along the trackside producing about 2.44 gigawatt of capacity. That is a huge amount.
Of course, there would be a huge cost in installing these panels. It has been estimated in the region of £2.9 billion. Network Rail could not fund all of this but there may be private investors who could help.
The above seems an interesting idea but not one without its challenges. It would, as already stated, involve a huge capital outlay and could no doubt be many years before this cost is covered by the potential savings/income generated. It would no doubt provide jobs for many people involved in the solar photovoltaic panel industry and that has to be a positive factor.
It should also result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions that the UK is looking to achieve over the years to come. The solar panels would not be located on the likes of green belt land so, presumably, there would be no objections in that respect.
It will be interesting to see if there are any developments in respect of the above and we will keep you updated.