Solar Panels Now Being Used to Power Trains

December 20, 2017

When you think of a train rolling down the tracks, you might imagine a steam- or diesel-powered locomotive car at the front, providing the propulsion necessary to move the other railcars along. In places like San Francisco, railcars are powered by electricity to move people from place to place. In fact, for almost 500 years, rail-based transportation has been relied upon in virtually every imaginable industry, from mining to manufacturing and from logistics to commercial construction.


Now, thanks to advances in solar panel engineering, the world’s first solar-powered train has been unveiled in Australia. The train sports a hybrid solar-diesel propulsion system that can operate on solar power alone, even on cloudy days. The diesel component is in place as a backup, even though it may not ever be needed. What makes this project all the more impressive is that an old, decommissioned passenger car was restored and retrofitted with all of the solar equipment necessary to bring it back to life. So, not only was the railcar chassis itself ‘recycled’, but the use of renewable energy will be it’s new powerhouse.


Why is this such a big deal? First of all, this is the first application of solar power technology in the railroad industry. Traditionally, large amounts of coal or fuel have been required to get trains to go from one point to another. Now, a 77 kW/hour solar battery can be shown to run a train, and that’s no small feat! Secondly, solar power hasn’t really made its way to the transportation sector at all. Granted, there have been discussions about implementing ‘solar roadways’ and even solar-powered cars, but neither of these concepts have made it through the vetting stages due to various complications. Until now, solar panel technology has been used on stationary buildings and fixed locations, for the most part.


At Urban Solar, we love seeing new and exciting applications of solar panel technology. While it’s fun to imagine where the future of renewable energy might take us, we also know that there’s already a huge benefit to applying solar technologies for everyday consumers. Home and business owners alike can both stand to benefit from a well-engineered solar power solution. Contact us today to begin the process of getting your own energy assessment conducted. It’s free, and we can get started immediately!