Trackside solar panels have the potential to save Network Rail £150 million in energy costs, according to a WSP report. This is particularly beneficial to Network Rail because it could be implemented without using farmland. Installing solar panels on land which you already own is, of course, particularly beneficial because you can avoid the cost of purchasing land for them.

solar trains WSP UK

“The study focuses on how the land and assets owned by the rail industry – Network Rail owns around 122 hectares in England alone – can worker harder to provide value, by installing trackside solar panels and improving smaller, tier two stations,” a lead-in to the report states.

“Our team has estimated that installing solar panels alongside UK railway track to power electric trains could potentially save Network Rail £30 million and 895,000 tonnes of carbon a year – that’s a £150 million saving over their next five-year control period.”

solar rail UK savingsJulie Carrier, the UK head of rail at the WSP, said that they are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make the rail network more financially efficient due to declining public investment and increasing demand. As she said, the solar project could make Network Rail’s land work harder for them.

We have seen large solar investments connected to rail lines in India, and on a rail line between Amsterdam and Paris, so why not the UK?

WSP is not looking to finance the solar projects themselves due to the large upfront costs, but is aiming to attract investors who would do so, passing on some of the huge financial benefits to WSP while taking some for themselves. We’ll have to wait to see if anyone bites.

You can read the full report here.

Images via the report.