UK rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has begun installing a solar array on the roof of its train depot in Bedford with more than 900 solar panels.
The “solar roof” is one of four across GTR’s depots and is expected to generate 322 MWh of electricity a year as part of the company’s net zero target for 2050.
Jason Brooker, head of environment for GTR, highlighted the company’s existing use of electric trains, saying: “We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and everyone has a job to do to minimise their carbon footprint.
“This new solar roof at Bedford Cauldwell Walk Depot, along with a raft of other initiatives, will cut our carbon footprint still further in the short to medium term and in the long-term help eradicate it altogether.” He added.
The array will be built by non-profit community climate group Energy Garden which will see half of the power generated to GTR and use the profits from the over half of the electricity to fund community projects.
Agamemnon Otero, founder and CEO of Energy Garden, said the organisation’s partnership could change the UK railway “forever”, he said: “Transport is the biggest single growing emissions sector in the UK. Energy Garden is a movement of people power who are supporting the decarbonisation of the rail.”
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The Bedford array of 923 panels is just part of GTR’s solar operations. The company is working towards installing at least 6,000 solar panels on its infrastructure alongside other projects such as replacing gas boilers with heat pumps and working with Network Rail to replace its remaining diesel trains.
The use of solar power towards net zero targets has found a place in many rail company operations with Bangkok’s MRT announcing that it would power two of its lines with 12% solar energy earlier this year.
Additionally, Siemens Mobility is also working on a feasibility study looking at feeding solar energy directly to trains in the UK after receiving a grant from the Department for Transport’s First of a Kind programme.