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Solar powered rail network set to become reality in Germany

A 42 MW solar park will be built in eastern Germany to generate power for the 16.7 Hz network of German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn

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Solar railway

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and solar project developer Enerparc have signed a contract for construction of a 42 MW solar power plant in Wasbek, in Schleswig-Holstein, eastern Germany.

The solar power generated will be fed directly into Deutsche Bahn’s 16.7 Hz rail network via a converter plant in Neumünster.

Enerparc told pv magazine the solar plant is expected to generate around 38 GWh of electricity per year.

Local authorities are still considering a land use permit request for the facility, said Enerparc, with construction ready to start if the permit is approved.

Deutsche Bahn wants to increase the volume of clean energy in its power mix to 61% this year, with the aim of powering the entire rail network from renewables by 2038.

“For the first time we are feeding solar power directly into the traction current network,” said Ronald Pofalla, infrastructure director for the rail company’s power subsidiary DB Energie. “We are breaking new ground in implementing our strategy for climate protection.”

DB Energie chief executive Torsten Schein said his company is the fifth largest electricity supplier in Germany and added: “From this direct feed-in of solar power, we gain experience and knowledge in the supply of rail with renewable energies.”

A similar pilot project was announced in the U.K. in August. The railway station in the town of Aldershot, in the southern English county of Hampshire, is hosting a 30 kW solar plant. The project, the first of its kind, serves as a traction current provider for the U.K. railway system.

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