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Could renewable energy power a Welsh railway line?

12/04/2019
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That’s the question the Green Valley Lines initiative is seeking to answer. The initiative has been given a boost this week courtesy of a £100,000 grant from the Rail Safety and Standards Board’s ‘Intelligent Power Solutions to Decarbonise Rail’ competition.
Solar, wind and hydro are amongst the renewable energy sources which could provide traction power for Welsh railway lines
The Green Valley Lines initiative – led by climate charity 10:10 in partnership with Community Energy South’s social enterprise Riding Sunbeams – will explore plans for the smart electrification of commuter lines to and from Cardiff.

Working with Network Rail, the Energy Saving Trust and engineering consultancy Ricardo, the initiative will use the funding to identify potential sites to install community owned solar, wind or hydroelectric generators next to railway lines in the region. These sites would direct supply the lines with low-cost, low-carbon electricity, whilst in turn providing financial benefits to local communities who would own the generators.

The initiative is also expected to examine the feasibility of directly connecting renewables to overhead electrified lines and analyse how best to integrate new energy storage technologies.

Leo Murray of 10:10 commented on the initiative saying:

“This exciting study is a golden opportunity to work out how to use new technologies to bring together Welsh leadership on rail electrification and community owned renewables. South Wales is rich in renewable energy sources, with a thriving community energy sector that could be the perfect complement to Network Rail’s pioneering plans for smart rail electrification in the region”.
If successful, the initiative could supply renewable traction power for railway lines across Wales.
(If successful, the initiative could supply renewable traction power for railway lines across Wales. Image via 10:10 Climate Action).

Graham Ayling from the Energy Saving Trust said:

“We’ve supported carbon reduction and community energy for many years so are very glad to be part of this project. It raises some exciting opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint of our railways in Wales and beyond in ways that benefit and empower local communities”.

The Welsh Assembly and Transport for Wales have ambitious plans to reduce the carbon footprint of the South Wales Metro network. Under the plans, trains will not be permitted to run on diesel north of Cardiff, and all energy for the newly electrified lines would have to be derived from renewable sources- with 50 percent originating from Welsh generators. The Green Valley Lines project falls under these plans.

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Could renewable energy power a Welsh railway line? - Time to read 3 min
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