4,400 solar panels to power Blackfriars station
Power: the solar panels on top of Blackfriars station. The bridge is 125 years old
09 July 2012
It will be London’s first solar-powered mainline station, generating enough from the capital’s occasional glimpses of the sun for half its electricity needs.
The 4,400 panels being installed on the roof of Blackfriars station — mostly under a blanket of grey clouds — will save Network Rail tens of thousands of pounds a year.
It is part of a three-and-a-half year modernisation programme of the station, with the 6,000 square metre array of panels being erected over the new station roof above the Victorian bridge.
Network Rail said the purpose of the work was to provide more space for passengers and longer, more frequent trains — up to 700 extra a week. The solar panels will generate up to half of the station’s energy needs, saving over 500 tonnes of CO2.
Network Rail senior programme manager for Blackfriars, Paul Byrne, said: “We’ve rebuilt Blackfriars on a 125-year-old rail bridge, creating a 21st century, solar-powered station on Victorian foundations.”
He added: “Blackfriars’ location — spanning the Thames — makes it a showcase for the potential of solar power, and an important benchmark for Network Rail as we look to make best use of sustainable technology on the rail network.”
Frans van den Heuve, of Solarcentury, added: “Blackfriars will be one of the world’s great solar-power installations. Architecturally challenging, the project demonstrates just what is possible with this versatile technology in dense urban areas.
“We’ve been working among one of the most complex building programmes in the country, at height, over water and live train lines. It’s a great feeling to be half way there.”
In the meantime, as the work continues on the installation, the station itself will become fully operational for passengers with two new escalators and an extra lift brought into service, making access to the station step-free.