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Transportation Transportation Battery

The world’s first #solar train launched in Australia

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by: Hans van der Broek
The world’s first #solar train launched in Australia

An Australian rail company has restored a disused train to be 100 percent powered by solar energy- a world first for the transportation sector.
The Byron Bay Railroad Company has refurbished a 70-year-old stretch of track, 3 kilometers between the town of Byron Bay- a beachside town in the northeast of the state of New South Wales, and the Elements of Byron Bay resort.
red gray #solar train in Baron Bay Australia seen from above
The train features a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) custom curved solar array located on the roofs of the carriages which feeds the on-board 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery storage system- a capacity same as that in a Tesla Model S, able to provide sufficient storage for 12-15 trips. 
A 30 kW solar PV array, a battery storage system and a charging station have been installed at the end of the route to recharge the train when needed.

The restored vintage carriages can carry 100 seated passengers, with additional room for standing passengers, luggage, bikes, and surfboards. The train embarked on its inaugural trip on Saturday and is currently running on a pilot timetable.
The $4 million project was funded by the multi-millionaire businessman Brian Flannery, the owner of the Elements of Byron Bay resort.
The route was abandoned for 13 years due to low passenger level. When it was decided to be put back in service, the original idea was to have a traditional diesel train, but due to resistance from the community, the company explored alternative ideas.

Brian Flannery said: "I think everyone knows that Byron's very conscious about anything to do with the environment”. “On a sunny day, we can do about four or five trips only from the rooftop solar system. On cloudy days, we still have the solar-powered charging station to plug it in”.

The train still has one of the original two diesel engines in case of emergency in the event of a fault in the electric drive system, but all the train’s systems are originally planned to be powered by solar energy and battery storage.
The project appears to be the first fully solar-powered train in the world. A similar solar-powered train was launched in India in July, although the solar panels were used only to power passenger comfort systems, such as lights, information displays, and fans.

Sustainability

Byron Bay Railroad Company has restored a derelict heritage train, repaired three kilometres of railway line and a bridge and reinvigorated and consequently preserved a section of an out of action rail corridor all to provide an affordable public transport solution for locals and visitors. All at no cost to ratepayers, at no cost to government at any level. The train operates on energy from the sun. Solar panels on the train and train storage shed will generate the equivalent amount of energy required to operate the train daily, charging the on-board battery bank. This is a world-first truly solar train and BBRC is proud to bring this technology and solution to Byron Bay.

Solar Power

Our original intention was to get the train up and running as a diesel service prior to converting to solar power. However with the accelerated development of technology in this area it became technically feasible to convert the train prior to its first run in Byron Bay. The conversion is being undertaken now at the Lithgow Railway Workshop.

The solar charged batteries are designed to operate all systems including traction power, lighting, control circuits and air compressors. We understand this to be a world first.

The custom designed curved solar panels on the roof of the train combined with the solar array on the storage shed roof generate sufficient energy to power the train. The regenerative (“regen”) braking system recovers around 25% of the spent energy each time the brakes are applied.

In the case of prolonged lack of sunshine the on-board batteries can be charged from the grid supply using 100% green energy from local community based energy retailer Enova Energy. Like a bank, BBRC’s arrays of solar panels will deposit energy and then withdraw when required.

This diagram outlines the solar conversion components and how the system works.

Diagram #solar train Byron Bay Australia

 

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World traveler, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Has countless ideas and set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. Has an opinion about everything and unlimited thoughts about a better world. He likes hiking and climbed numerous 5.000 m.
World traveler, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Has countless ideas and set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. Has an opinion about everything and unlimited thoughts about a better world. He likes hiking and climbed numerous 5.000 m.
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