A new solar park is expected to supply electricity to Belgian trains within a year, according to Belgium’s infrastructure management organisation Infrabel. 

Construction has begun close to the Flanders and Wallonia border at Avernas-le-Boudin, approximately halfway between Leuven (in Dutch-speaking Flanders) and Liege (in French-speaking Wallonia). 

The location is strategic, just metres from HSL-2, the highspeed line between Leuven and Ans. This standard gauge, electrified route is part of Belgium’s international rail network with connections to Germany and the Netherlands. It is part of the Brussels-Cologne route travelled by ICE trains. 

The Avernas photovoltaic park covers three hectares and will eventually consist of at least 3,800 solar panels. The park is expected to begin producing enough electricity to power trains by spring 2025, and to produce enough electricity to power 500 train services a week when fully operational. 

Due to its location, the park will not only power SNCB national trains, but international services too. 

The new photovoltaic installation benefits further from existing local infrastructure, including a substation and a wind farm which will reportedly supplement the park to help provide constant power. 

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Belgium’s deputy Prime Minister George Gilkinet and Infrabel’s CEO Benoît Gilson attended the installation of the first panels. When complete, the park is expected to produce approximately 2,700 megawatt-hours annually. 

The project will likely cost in excess of $2m, with that amount already committed by Infrabel in conjunction with state subsidies.