World’s First Solar-Powered Train to Begin Service Soon in Australia

The solar train features a 6.5kW solar array comprised of flexible solar panels on the roofs of the carriages, which can together carry up to 100 passengers at a time.

solar powered train

Image Credit: © Byron Bay Railroad Company

The world’s first solar-powered train will begin taking passengers, in New South Wales coastal town of Byron Bay in Australia.

It’s the realisation of an eight-year dream held by the owners of the resort Elements of Byron and their development director, Jeremy Holmes.

The solar train features a 6.5kW solar array comprised of flexible solar panels on the roofs of the carriages, which can together carry up to 100 passengers at a time. The rooftop solar array will feed into the onboard 77kWh battery, which also gets partially charged between trips by the station’s solar array.

According to RenewEconomy, the battery is about the same capacity as that in a Tesla Model S, but the solar train only requires about 4kWh to travel each leg of the trip, so there is plenty of juice for it to make “12-15 runs off a single charge,” and the regenerative braking feature will allow the train to recoup “around 25% of the spent energy each time the brakes are applied.”

The train was originally intended to be put into service as a diesel unit, but after “a fair bit of community resistance” to the idea of having a diesel train running there, the company explored the option of using an electric drive system coupled with a solar charging station, and found it to be a feasible alternative.

The original carriages, which were built in 1949 at Chullora Railway Workshops in Sydney using lightweight aluminum aircraft technology (the facility was used from 1942-1945 to build bombers) were restored by Lithgow Railway Workshop.

Source: Tree Hugger

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