On Wednesday 22nd of January, the largest solar bridge in the world was officially declared opened. Networkrail - owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, developer Solarcentury and train operator First Capital Connect had a free hot beverage for every commuter passing through Blackfriars station in the morning, drawing attention to the fact that the bridge generates enough energy for 80,000 cups of tea a day!
The refurbishing work at Blackfriars Rail Bridge in London started in 2009, when Networkrail started to modernize the underground station. Above-ground, the railway station was extended along Blackfriars Bridge, now spanning the width of the river Thames. The station roof features 4,400 Panasonic HIT® solar modules, a 1.1 MWp installation which provide around 50 % of the station’s energy consumption. The panels were chosen because of their renowned efficiency: due to the unique HIT® structure, the panels produce more W per m² than average solar panels, a first to go to choice to minimize the weight of the bridge structure.
- 4,400 modules produce approximately 50 % of the station’s annual energy consumption. To the left is the original Blackfriars Bridge while to the right you see the new Blackfriars Rail Bridge.
The project is one step in the £6.5bn Thameslink programme, to improve public transport in the busy English capital. Through its prominent position close to many popular tourist spots and its high visibility for commuters, the solar array at Blackfriars Rail Bridge will do its fair share to promote renewable energies and stand as a landmark project for sustainable city development.
Specifications of the solar bridge
The system is the largest array on a bridge in the world, and provides up to 50% of the stations energy.
- System size: 1.1 MWp
- No of panels: 4,400 Panasonic HIT® solar modules
- Area of Solar PV system: 6000 m ²
- Annual generation: 900,000 kWh*
- Annual CO₂ savings: 513,000 kg*
*Estimations at the time of installation