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Two-Mile Solar Tunnel Powers Rail Between Paris and Amsterdam Two-Mile Solar Tunnel Powers Rail Between Paris and Amsterdam

Two-Mile Solar Tunnel Powers Rail Between Paris and Amsterdam

by Ben Jervey

June 8, 2011

Oftentimes, the toughest part about introducing new renewable energy projects is finding the right site to install them. Society still often regards wind turbines as eyesores, and many still prefer a slate roof to one covered with photovoltaics.

But in Belgium, there's a new massive solar installation that even the toughest NIMBY neighbor would have a hard time criticizing.

Behold, the two mile long solar train tunnel. (And pardon the corny music.)

This 16,000-panel solar array was built by Enfinity on the Paris to Amsterdam line, with the panels placed on top of a tunnel that was already necessary in the high-speed line's construction. Bart Van Renterghem of Enfinity explains:

For train operators, it is the perfect way to cut their carbon footprints because you can use spaces that have no other economic value and the projects can be delivered within a year because they don't attract the protests that wind power does.

While this two-mile stretch of solar panels won't power the whole line of trains, its enough to power half of the big Antwerp station nearby. That's not inconsquential. And if there were tunnels located intermittently along the tracks, its not crazy to consider the potential of running a whole high-speed rail line off the sun's rays.

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