The Anonymous Widower

Solar Firm To Develop Novel Electronics For Rail Renewables

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Engineering and Technology.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Solar energy company Riding Sunbeams has won funding to develop power electronics technology that will enable it to feed renewable electricity directly into railway overhead wires.

Because solar panels and lithium-ion batteries work in DC and overhead electrification works in AC, this sentence describes the main objective of the project.

The Daybreak demonstrator will repurpose existing technology already being used on UK rail networks for other purposes to create a new device that will provide the required power conversion.

Existing technology and equipment will be used to save time and costs and because it is already rail-certified.

The rest of the article fleshes out a few details.

The test system will be installed at Quinton Rail Technology Centre at Long Marston.

This is the closing paragraph.

In particular, Riding Sunbeams hopes its technology will be able to play a part in delivering 70MW of direct-wire renewable generation to help power the soon-to-be-electrified Core Valley Lines in South Wales through a mixture of solar, wind and energy storage.

As electrification in the Core Valley Lines will be discontinuous, it could appear that the technology developed in this project could help connect and reduce costs.

June 20, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


  1. aha, that begins to make sense then. They’re not adding power to an existing line, but providing part of the power for new lines. And if they’re using not just solar, but wind and storage as well, then they’re likely to be able to supply a more constant current. And as much of the Core Valley Lines are outside the built-up areas, installing panels or whatever should be easier. As you say, that should reduce the install and running costs for new electric lines. I’ll be interested to see how that goes.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 20, 2020 | Reply

  2. It looks to me, that they’re doing some good old fashioned value engineering to connect everything together.

    What does this mean in the original post?

    “Working in conjunction with Angel Trains, we have sourced an AC/DC bi-directional power electronic device which forms part of a traction converter”

    Are they using the same device from a modern train or a refurbished unit for a scrapped train?

    Looking at Angel’s fleets, they own the Class 350 and Class 360 trains. Some of the 350s are dual-voltage, so one of the spare traction converters in the stores may be winging its way to Riding Sunbeams.

    Because of maintenance rules, trains going to the scrapyard often have expensive equipment in them, that is only a few months old. So some forty year old trains may have equipment that is only a couple of months old. As an aside, Vivarail told me, that some of the D78 stock had virtually new bits in them.

    Comment by AnonW | June 20, 2020 | Reply

  3. there’s also more on their website especially the Before Dawn one. They’re actually not connecting directly to the rail power supply but to the feeder system, which makes a lot more sense. And given their roots in community energy, if the solar/wind farms belong to local communities, that should help reduce NIMBY opposition.

    Comment by Peter Robins | June 20, 2020 | Reply

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