First-of-a-Kind Solar Power System for European Rail Operator
ANTWERP, Belgium, Oct. 21, 2010 Renewable energy company Enfinity has partnered with rail operator Infrabel to start work on a solar power project on the roof of the high-speed rail tunnel along the E19 highway in Belgium. The solar energy will be used by the trains and station servicing both conventional and high-speed trains, representing a unique application of solar power in Europe.
More than 16,000 solar panels will be installed on the roof of the high-speed rail tunnel stretching just over 2 miles long. The tunnel is primarily used by the high-speed train connecting Amsterdam and Paris via Brussels.
The roof's total surface area is 50,000 m2, roughly equivalent to 8 football fields. The installation should generate an estimated 3.3 MWh of electricity per year.
The installation commenced this summer on the tunnel's northern side. Project completion is scheduled for December 2010. The total investment budget is $20.1 million.
Infrabel, the Belgian railway infrastructure manager, will use the green energy in the Antwerp North-South junction (including Antwerp Central Station) and to power both conventional and high-speed trains running on the Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris line. With this project Infrabel has re-emphasized its belief in renewable energy as a viable alternative, and complement, to conventional energy sources.
Commenting on the intricacies of the project, Patrick Decuyper, CEO of Enfinity Europe said, "In the months to come, a large technical team will install more than 16,000 monocrystalline solar panels (245 Wp per panel) on the roof with a special ballast tile structure, with no rooftop perforations required. During the installation we naturally take into account roof vibrations that may occur when trains rush through the tunnel."
Infrabel is responsible for the management, maintenance, renewal and development of the Belgian railway network. The company is also responsible for train routes allocation for all Belgian and foreign operators. Infrabel was established on 1 January 2005, when Belgian Railways was broken up, and is part of the SNCB Group. The company now employs some 12,500 people with a turnover of approximately 1 billion euro (2009).
Enfinity is an established leader in renewable energy. Enfinity develops, finances, constructs and operates photovoltaic solar and wind energy plants. Besides its own project development, Enfinity sells integrated solar installations to companies and individuals and acts as an EPC contractor. Founded in Belgium, Enfinity has operations and projects across Europe and has expanded into North America and Asia-Pacific. For further information visit: www.enfinitycorp.com.