Environment

Work starts on world's largest solar bridge at Blackfriars

Work starts on world's largest...
The new Blackfriars railway station, being built on the foundations of a Victorian bridge spanning the River Thames in London, has started to have the first of over 4,400 solar panels installed on its roof (All photos: Solarcentury/Network Rail)
The new Blackfriars railway station, being built on the foundations of a Victorian bridge spanning the River Thames in London, has started to have the first of over 4,400 solar panels installed on its roof (All photos: Solarcentury/Network Rail)
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The new Blackfriars railway station, being built on the foundations of a Victorian bridge spanning the River Thames in London, has started to have the first of over 4,400 solar panels installed on its roof (All photos: Solarcentury/Network Rail)
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The new Blackfriars railway station, being built on the foundations of a Victorian bridge spanning the River Thames in London, has started to have the first of over 4,400 solar panels installed on its roof (All photos: Solarcentury/Network Rail)
Engineers install the first HIT solar panel on the roof of the new Blackfriars railway station in the heart of London
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Engineers install the first HIT solar panel on the roof of the new Blackfriars railway station in the heart of London
The photovoltaic array is expected to satisfy 50 percent of the station's power needs
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The photovoltaic array is expected to satisfy 50 percent of the station's power needs
The first of over 4,400 high efficiency HIT photovoltaic panels in installed on the newly-built roof of the redeveloped Blackfriars Station
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The first of over 4,400 high efficiency HIT photovoltaic panels in installed on the newly-built roof of the redeveloped Blackfriars Station

Blackfriars Bridge, a Victorian rail bridge in the heart of London, is now well on its way to becoming the biggest solar array in the city and the world's largest solar bridge. When the installation is complete, the roof of the new Blackfriars railway station will be home to over 6,000 square meters (64,583 sq.ft.) of solar panels, satisfying half of the station's power needs.

We recently featured a two mile stretch of rail tunnel with 16,000 solar panels on the roof, providing power to signaling, lighting, and heating of railway stations, and also to some of the trains using the Belgian rail network.

Now, Blackfriars Bridge has started to have over 4,400 high-efficiency Sanyo HIT photovoltaic panels installed on its newly-built roof by London-based Solarcentury and engineers from Jacobs. Blackfriars spans the River Thames, and was originally built during the age of steam in 1886.

The new Blackfriars Station is currently being redeveloped as part of a Network Rail Thameslink program upgrade (with funding from the Department for Transport's safety and environment fund), which aims to have longer trains - meaning more seats for commuters - running from Bedford to Brighton via London. The solar installation will generate a claimed 900,000kWh of electricity every year, and will be joined by other energy-saving measures such as rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting.

13 comments
Todd Dunning
This power figure sounds so absurd because both wind and solar projects deceptively advertise their maximum possible capacity - NOT their averaged output. Meaning this array is designed to produce a maximum output that can satisfy these needs, but actually will produce around 20% of that figure. Wind comes out to about 18% of maximum capacity and you must also subtract maintenance and downtime.
christopher
LOL - lets pick a spot on the planet most likely to be covered in clouds, raining, smoggy, or other wise dark - and put solar panels there :-)
Slowburn
While I am not a fan of photovoltaic, The rain will keep the panels relatively clean. I think setting up some floating water wheels would be a more practical way of generating electricity.
Scion
Doing the maths on the power figure: 900,000kWh 1457.4 average sunshine hours in London / year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_the_United_Kingdom) = 617.5 kW/h 4,400 panels = approx 140 watts / panel Doing a quick google search for HIT solar panels shows that Sanyo\'s current model is 210 watts / panel Using that figure we can see the above equation would mean a 66% assumed efficiency based on average sunshine hours / year in London. Max output would be: 1,346,637 kWh, assuming average sunshine hours. If by max output (for the 20% comment above) you mean they calculate not on average sunshine, but on all daylight hours then it would seem reasonable that 4,400 solar panels rated at 210watts / panel could produce 900,000 kWh / year. OR Maybe they should put a nuclear reactor on the roof?
Kingsfield58
Good point, Todd. Let's not bother. Better to just burn more coal and rearrange the deck chairs as out Titanic sinks.
Mark Pettit
as they are sitting on top of a river, it makes sense to get power from that too...why isn\'t that in the plan, I wonder?
Solarcentury
The size of the system is 1.1MW. In the UK the average generation per kW is 850kWh - often considerably higher. So, the expected generation is 900,000 kWh of electricity per year. This yield average is verified by The Department of Energy and Climate Change, and is based on extensive monitoring and field trials in the UK.
Slowburn
re; Mark-Toxic Pettit While I agree with you. The River Thames in London is a tidal estuary with reversing flows and salt water. Part of the reason I like waterwheels over turbines for the job. re; Kingsfield58 AGW is nonsense not a crisis. Check out a little historical perspective. http://neoconexpress.blogspot.com/2010/12/time-like-newsweek-predicted-coming-ice.html http://boldrepublic.com/climate_change.html http://www.sodahead.com/living/the-april-8th-1977-issue-of-time-magazine-entitled-how-to-survive-the-coming-ice-age-is/question-188977/?link=ibaf&q=times%2Bmagazine%2Bcover%2Bice%2Bage&imgurl=http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000188977/polls_untitled1_3317_661370_poll_xlarge.jpeg
David Leithauser
Todd: You evidently did not read the article carefully. THe power figure was expressed as kWh per year, which IS an average figure, not as kW. Regarding hte other comments, I agree that it does make more sense to put water wheels of some kind in the river than to use soalr panels. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive. Why not do both?
Slowburn
re; Why not do both? comment David Charles Leithauser Because the cost effectiveness of solar is really low.