The Anonymous Widower

Rail Solar Projects Pave The Way For Renewables

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

Electric trains could provide a huge guaranteed market for renewables, but it will need some railway-specific power equipment.

The article then goes on to describe how Riding Sunbeams are developing and sourcing the equipment to connect both 750 VDC  and 25 KVAC electrification directly to solar panels.

It is not as easy, as you might think!

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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 | , , , | 3 Comments

Rail Solar Project Seen As Stepping Stone For Renewables

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A British solar power company is working on technology that could enable railways all over the world to be powered by renewable energy, with South Wales seen as a likely testbed for the equipment.

Riding Sunbeams is developing its technology to see if it can be part of the electrification of the South Wales Metro.

Some relevant points from the article.

  • Their test installation at Aldershot, which is rated at 37 kW, is quite small.
  • The Aldershot system is already delivering power to trains.
  • The Welsh Government are aiming for the South Wales Metro to be powered by renewable energy, of which 50 % is generated in Wales.
  • There could be export possibilities for the technology.

Note that the article gives an interesting insight into the various equipment needed to power railway electrification.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Highview Power And Railway Electrification

In Encore Joins Highview To Co-Develop Liquid Air Energy Storage System In Vermont, I gave brief notes about a proposed Highview Power CRYOBattery in Vermont.

  • The system will supply 50 MW for eight hours.
  • The total capacity will be 400 MWh.

Other articles have suggested, that the system could be built on the site of a demolished coal-fired power station, which still has a good connection to the electricity grid.

In other words, I believe that a CRYOBattery can be considered to be a small 50 MW power station.

  • It could be charged by local excess renewable energy during the day.
  • It could be charged by excess renewal energy from the electricity grid during the night, when there can be large amounts of wind energy, that needs a home.
  • Intelligent control systems, would balance the output of the CRYOBattery to the needs of the electricity grid.

It would be used in very much the same way as gas-turbine power-stations are used in electricity grids all over the world.

The Braybrooke Feeder Station

The National Grid is providing a feeder station at Braybrooke to support the Midland Main Line electrification.

This page on the Harbough Rail Users site is entitled Electrification Substation Plan for Braybrooke.

It gives this description of the sub-station.

Electrification of part of the Midland Main Line has moved a tentative step closer with the plans being prepared by National Grid for a feeder substation at Braybrooke, just outside Market Harborough.  The location is where a high-voltage National Grid power-line crosses over the railway and the plan is for a substation and associated equipment plus an access road from the A6. The substation is due to be completed by October 2020 and is intended to feed the power supply for the Corby line pending electrification of the main line through Market Harborough.

This Google Map shows the rough area, where it will be located.

Note.

  1. The A6 crossing the Midland Main Line.
  2. The solar farm in the South-facing field, which has a 3MW capacity, according to the Eckland Lodge Business Park web site.
  3. Various planning documents say the transformers on the substation will be 400/25 kV units.
  4. This means that the power-line in the area must be a 400 kV.

Unfortunately, I can’t pick out the line of 400 kV pylons marching across the countryside. But they are rather large.

The pictures show a group of 400 kV pylons near Barking.

  • The Midland Main Line at Braybrooke certainly seems to be getting a solid supply of electricity.
  • It was originally planned, that the electrification would go all the way, but it was cut back to Kettering and Corby a couple of years ago.
  • But to power, the electrification to Corby, it is being extended all the way to Braybrooke, so that the electrification can act as a giant extension lead for the Corby Branch Line.

The page on the Harborough Rail Users Site says this.

The Braybrooke substation is still planned, however, and the DfT has advised that the bi-mode trains will be able to switch power mode at speed.  They would therefore be able to continue running electrically north from Kettering as far as Braybrooke before ‘pan down’

It would appear, that the end of the electrification will be at Braybrooke, but the sub-station seems to have enough power to extend the electrification further North if that is ever planned.

I also think, that is rather an efficient and affordable solution, with very little modification required to the existing electricity network.

But not all electricity feeds to railway electrification have a convenient 400 kV line at a handy site for installing all the needed transformers and other electrical gubbins.

How Much Power Will Needed To Be Supplied At Braybrooke?

This can probably be dismissed as the roughest or rough calculations, but the answer shows the order of magnitude of the power involved.

Consider.

  • Braybrooke must be sized for full electrification of the Midland Main Line.
  • Braybrooke will have to power trains North of Bedford.
  • If there is full electrification of the Midland Main Line, it will probably have to power trains as far North as East Midlands Parkway station, where there is a massive power station.
  • Trains between Bedford and Market Harborough take thirty minutes.
  • Trains between Bedford and Corby take around thirty minutes.
  • Four trains per hour (tph) run between Bedford and Market Harborough in both directions.
  • The system must be sized to handle two tph between Bedford and Corby in both directions.
  • The power output of each Class 360 train, that will be used on the Corby route is 1,550 kW, so a twelve-car set will need 4.65 MW.
  • I can’t find the power output of a Class 810 train, but an InterCity 125 with similar performance has 3.4 MW.
  • A Class 88 bi-mode locomotive has a power output of 4 MW when using the electrification.

I estimate that Braybrooke could have to support at least a dozen trains at busy times, each of which could need 4 MW.

Until someone gives me the correct figure, I reckon that Braybrooke has a capacity to supply 50 MW for trains on the Midland Main Line.

A Highview Power system as proposed for Vermont, would have enough power, but would need a lot more storage or perhaps local wind or solar farms, to give it a regular charging.

Riding Sunbeams

Riding Sunbeams are a company, who use solar power to provide the electricity for railway electrification.

I’ll let their video explain what they do.

It’s a company with an idea, that ticks a lot of boxes, but would it be able to provide enough power for a busy electrified main line? And what happens on a series of rainy or just plain dull days?

Highview Power

Could a Highview Power energy storage system be used?

  • To store electricity from local or grid electrical sources.
  • To power the local electrification.

If required, it could be topped up by affordable overnight electricity, that is generated by wind power.

The Highview Power system could also be sized to support the local electricity grid and local solar and wind farms.

Conclusion

I think that Riding Sunbeams and Highview Power should be talking to each other.

 

 

May 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Riding Sunbeams Deploys Solar Array

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

Riding Sunbeams Ltd has installed a 30 kWp solar test unit with around 100 panels near Aldershot which is directly supplying electricity to power signalling and lighting on Network Rail’s Wessex Route.

This will enable data to be gathered to assess how much larger solar arrays could be used to power trains.

Note that kWp is peak kW. On a very sunny day, 30 kW is the highest power level that will be supplied.

This page on the Energy Saving Trust is entitled Costs and Saving and this is said.about solar generation in the South of England.

A 4kWp system in the south of England can generate around 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the London Eye 56 times. It will save around 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

For comparison, they say this about solar generation in Scotland.

A 4kWp system in Scotland can generate about 3,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the Falkirk Wheel 2,200 times. It will save approximately 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

I’d be interested to know, the two locations, where they measured the sunlight.

It was a lovely sunny day recently, when I passed through Aldershot station, so I’ll use the Southern England figures.

  • Uprating the Energy Saving Trust figures by 30/4 gives a yearly output of 31,500 kWh,
  • The daily output is 86.3 kWh.
  • The hourly output based on a 0600-2200 sixteen hour day is 5.4 kWh

There would probably be a battery to make the most of the electricity generated.

Powering Feeder Stations For Third-Rail Electrification

As the Railway Gazette article says, the trial installation at Aldershot station will be used to power signalling and the station, which will then give figures to assess how trains can be powered.

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that 750 VDC rail-based direct current electrification needs many more feeder stations, than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Could a solar system from Riding Sunbeams supply power in the following situations?

  • Places where there was space for a solar array.
  • Remote locations, where a connection to the grid is difficult.
  • Places, where the power supply needed a bit of a boost.

How large would an individual solar feeder station need to be?

Consider a feeder station on a rail line with these characteristics.

  • Third-rail electrification
  • Four-car trains
  • Each train uses three kWh per vehicle mile.
  • Two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Electrification sections are three miles long.
  • Trains run from six in the morning to ten at night.
  • Trains pass at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The hourly electricity need for each section would be 144 kWh or 2304 kWh per day and 841 MWh for the whole year.

The Energy Saving Trust says this.

A 4kWp system in the south of England can generate around 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Using these figures says that a solar array of 800 MWp will be needed to provide the power for one feeder station.

Consider.

  • The largest solar array in the UK is Shotwick Solar Farm, which has a capacity of 72 MWp.
  • Shotwick covers 730 acres.

Am I right to question if that enough electricity to create a feeder station to power trains, can be produced reliably from a solar array and a battery?

I’d love to have the electricity usage and bill for one of Network Rail’s typical third-rail feeder stations. Not that I’d want to pay it!

How Would Station Stops Be Handled?

When a modern electrical multiple unit stops in a station, there is a three-stage process.

  • The train decelerates, hopefully using regenerative braking, where the braking energy is returned through the electrification to hopefully power nearby trains.
  • The train waits in the station for a minute or so, using power for air-conditioning and other hotel functions.
  • The train accelerates away using track power.

Would a Riding Sunbeams system provide enough capacity to accelerate the train away?

In What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Class 710 Train?, I calculated the kinetic energy of a very full Class 710 train, which is just about as modern and probably efficient, as you can get.

These were my results.

  • 50 mph – 15.3 kWh
  • 60 mph – 22.1 kWh
  • 90 mph – 49.4 kWh – Operating speed of a Crossrail Class 345 train.
  • 100 mph – 61.3 kWh – Operating speed of many electric multiple units.

These kinetic energy values are low enough to make it possible that a modern electric multiple unit can run using on-board batteries.

  • Regenerative braking would be captured in the batteries.
  • Hotel power in the station can be provided by batteries.
  • Batteries can cruise the train through sections of line without electrification or with a poor electrical supply.

Suppose there is a twenty mile gap between two stations; A and B, where trains cruise at 90 mph.

  • The train arrives at station A, with a battery that has been charged on previous parts of the journey from the electrification.
  • Regenerative braking energy will be stored in the battery on braking.
  • Acceleration to 90 mph will need 49.4 kWh of electricity from the battery.
  • Using my 3 kWh per vehicle mile figure, going from A to B, will need 4 cars * 20 miles * 3 = 240 kWh of electricity.

It looks like a battery with a capacity of 300 kWh would handle this situation

Could this be fitted into a four-car train, like an Aventra?

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

If 424 kWh can be fitted under the floor of a two-car Class 230 train, I’m sure in a train designed for energy storage at least 500 kWh or maybe as high as 1000 kWh could be fitted to a four-car Aventra.

A 500 kWh battery would give a battery range of just under forty miles, whilst a 1000 kWh battery would give a ninety-five mile range.

Obviously, the battery would need to be charged, but in many cases the range would take the train between two existing electrified lines. Think Ipswich -Cambridge, Newcastle-Carlisle, the Fife Circle Line, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford-Hastings!

Conclusion

Riding Sunbeams may be suitable for providing local power for signalling and stations, but batteries on trains looks like it could be a better way of powering trains.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s First Solar-Powered Trains Are Coming To England

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on Lonely Planet.

This is the first paragraph

The first ever solar unit to directly supply a railway line with electricity has been put in place in England, paving the way for the world’s first solar-powered trains

I am not sure yet about this technology., powering large sections of the UK’s railways.

But the technology does have applications, if it is combined with energy storage.

Boosting Power With Third-Rail Electrification

Third-rail electrification has a problem, in that it needs to be fed with power every few miles. Inevitably, as timetables get busier, there are areas, where there is not enough power to supply the trains.

These systems can provide that fill-in power.

Note that 25 KVAC overhead electrification doesn’t have the problem, as the wires themselves distribute the electricity.

This means that the Great Western Main Line electrification is only supplied with power from the electricity grid at three places; the two ends and one in the middle.

Electrification In Visually-Sensitive Places

Look at this picture of Brunel’s magnificent Wharncliffe Viaduct.

It has been recently electrified and some groups object to the electrification of Grade I Listed structures like this.

Most modern electric trains can be dual-voltage and can work on both electrification systems used in the UK; 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail. They can also change between electrification systems at maximum speed

So could we see selective use of solar-powered third-rail electrification in visually-sensitive areas?

Possibly! But battery/electric trains may be a better alternative!

Charging Battery-Electric Trains

There are some branch lines, that will be served by battery-electric trains in the future.

These solar-powered systems could be used to provide the energy to charge the batteries for the return journey.

Powering Remote Stations

Stations are increasingly needing better electricity supplies with more lighting and various ticket and parking machines, and charging for electric cars will become more important.

Solar power systems and batteries could be used.

Conclusion

Solar power will be increasingly used on the railways, with a large number of stations like Blackfriars and the recently-opened White Hart Lane.

But that will happen, irrespective of the result of the Aldershot trial, as many stations are easy places to install solar panels, either on the roof or redundant spaces.

This Google Map shows one of my local stations; Haggerston.

It was rebuilt and reopened in April 2010, so solar panels were probably not thought about for the station.

From my helicopter, it appears that the stations at  Dalston Junction, Hoxton and Shoreditch High Street, which were all built at the same time, don’t have solar rooves either.

Perhaps Transport for London and/or Network Rail should rent their roof areas to companies, who run solar farms?

I’m sure there’s a mutually beneficial deal in there somewhere!

As to powering trains, I’m sure they that Riding Sunbeams has a place on third-rail networks, where power needs boosting.

However, electric trains with batteries might be a better option in other applications.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Solar Panel Pilot For Aldershot

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the August 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the two paragraphs.

Solar panels are to be installed on derelict land near Aldershot station as part of an experiment into whether renewable energy can be used to power trains.

A total of 135 discrete solar panels are being installed and are expected to go live in August. The Riding Subnbeams ‘First Light’ demonstrator project is a collaboration between climate change charity 10:10, Community Energy South and Network Rail, alongside a consortium of specialist consultants and university departments.

I wrote about the company and its ideas in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand, which I posted in December 2017.

I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that since I wrote the original article, a compatible development has happened.

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I wrote about Vivarail’s charging system for battery trains, which uses battery-to-battery power transfer to charge batteries on trains, through standard third-rail technology.

I do feel that the 10:10 and Vivarail ought to be talking, as I feel that between them, they could come up with some good joint ideas.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand

The title of this post is the same ass this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Solar panels could be used to power a sizeable chunk of Britain’s DC electric rail network, a new report has suggested.

Climate change charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab looked at the feasibility of using solar panels alongside the track to directly power the railway.

The report claims that 15 per cent of the commuter network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be powered directly by 200 small solar farms. It suggested that solar panels could also supply 6 per cent of the London Underground’s energy requirements and 20 per cent of the Merseyrail network.

In another article in today’s Times about the study, this is said.

Installing solar farms and batteries alongside lines also could provide the extra energy needed to power more carriages on busy routes that otherwise would require prohibitively expensive upgrades to electricity networks.

Note the use of batteries mentioned in the extract from The Times. This would be sensible design as power can be stored, when the sun is shining and used when it isn’t!

If you want to read the full report, click here!

I will lay out my thoughts in the next few sections.

Is This Technique More Applicable To Rail-Based Direct Current Electrification?

All of the routes mentioned for application of these solar farms,; Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail are electrified using one of two rail-based direct current systems.

Consider the following.

Powering The Track

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that as rail-based direct current electrification needs a lot of feeder stations along the line, this might be better suited for solar power and battery electrification systems.

Consider.

  • Most of the feeder stations would not need a connection to the National Grid.
  • Solar panels generate low direct current voltages, which are probably cheaper to convert to 750 VDC than 25 KVAC.
  • In installing electrification on a line like the Uckfield Branch, you would install the extra rails needed and a solar farm and battery system every two or three miles.
  • With the situation mentioned in the extract from The Times, you might add a solar farm and battery system, to a section of track, where more power is needed.
  • For efficiency and safety, power would only be sent to the rail when a train was present.

I trained as an Electrical Engineer and I very much feel, that solar power and battery systems are better suited to powering rail-based electrification. Although, they could be used for the overhead DC systems we use in the UK for trams.

Modular Design

Each of the solar farm and battery systems could be assembled from a series of factory-built modules.

This would surely make for a cost-effective installation, where capacity and capabilities could be trailored to the location.

Regenerative Braking

Modern trains use regenerative braking, which means that braking energy is converted into electricity. The electricity is handled in one of the following ways.

  1. It is turned into heat using resistors on the train roof.
  2. It is returned through the electrification system and used to power nearby trains.
  3. It is stored in a battery on the train.

Note.

  1. Option 1 is not efficient.
  2. Option 2 is commonly used on the London Underground and other rail-based electrification systems.
  3. Option 2 needs special transformers  to handle 25 KVAC systems.
  4. Option 3 is efficient and is starting to be developed for new trains and trams.

If batteries are available at trackside, then these can also be used to store braking energy.

I believe that using solar farm and battery systems would also enable efficient regenerative braking on the lines they powered.

But again, because of the transformer issue, this would be much easier on rail-bassed direct current electrification systems.

Could Wind Turbines Be Used?

Both solar farms and wind turbines are not guaranteed to provide continuous power, but putting a wind turbine or two by the solar farm would surely increase the efficiency of the system, by generating energy in two complimentary ways and then storing it until a train came past.

Wind energy could also be available for more hours in the day and could even top up the battery in the dark.

In fact, why stop with wind turbines?

Any power source could be used. On a coastal railway, it might be wave or tidal power.

Could Hydrogen Power Be Used?

I think that hydrogen power could be another way to create the energy needed to back up the intermittent power of solar farms and wind turbines.

I put a few notes in Hydrogen-Powered Railway Electrification.

 

Would The Technique Work With Battery Trains?

Most certainly!

I haven’t got the time or the software to do a full simulation, but I suspect that a route could have an appropriate number of solar farm and battery systems and each would give the battery train a boost, as it went on its way.

Would The Technique Work With 25 KVAC Electrification?

It would be more expensive due to the inverter involved to create the 25 KVAC needed.

But I feel it would be another useful tool in perhaps electrifying a tunnel or a short length of track through a station.

It could also be used to charge a train working a branch line on batteries.

Would The Technique Work With Dual Voltage Trains?

Many trains in the UK can work with both third-rail 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Classes of trains include.

  • The Class 319 trains built for Thameslink in the 1980s.
  • The Class 345 trains being built for Crossrail.
  • The Class 387 trains built for various operators.
  • The Class 700 trains recently built for Thamelink.

There are also other classes that could be modified to run on both systems.

Provided they are fitted with third-rail shoes, there is no reason to stop dual-voltage trains running on a line electrified using solar farms and batteries.

The technique could surely be used to electrify a branch line from a main line electrified using 25 KVAC.

Consider the Henley Branch Line.

  • It is four-and-a half miles long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • It connects to the electrified Great Western Main Line at Twyford station.
  • The line can handle trains up to six-cars.
  • All services on the line are worked by diesel trains.

Services consist of a shuttle between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, with extra services to and from Paddington in the Peak and during the Regatta.

Network Rail were planning to electrify the line using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but this has been cancelled, leaving the following options for Paddington services.

  • Using battery trains, possibly based on the Class 387 trains, which would be charged between Paddington and Twyford.
  • Using Class 800 bi-mode trains.
  • Using Class 769 bi-mode trains.

All options would mean that the diesel shuttle continued or it could be replaced with a Class 769 bi-mode train.

An alternative would be to electrify the branch using third-rail fitted with solar farm and battery systems.

  • All services on the line could be run by Class 387 trains.
  • Voltage changeover would take place in Twyford station.

There are several lines that could be served in this way.

Installation Costs

I’ll repeat my earlier quote from the Modern Railways article.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

If you were going to electrify, the twenty-four non-electrified miles of the Marshlink Line, with traditional Southern  Electric third-rail, you would need around 8-12 National Grid connections to power the line. As the Romney Marsh is probably not blessed with a dense electricity network, although it does have a nuclear power station, so although putting in the extra rails may be a relatively easy and affordable project, providing the National Grid connection may not be as easy.

But use solar farm and battery systems on the remoter areas of the line and the number of National Grid connections will be dramatically reduced.

Good National Grid connections are obviously available at the two ends of the line at Hastings and Ashford International stations. I also suspect that the electricity network at Rye station could support a connection for the electrification.

This could mean that six to eight solar farm and battery systems would be needed to electrify this important line.

I obviously, don’t have the actual costs, but this could be a very affordable way of electrifying a remote third-rail line.

Which Lines Could Be Electrified Using Solar Farm And Battery Systems?

For a line to be electrified and powered by solar farm and battery systems, I think the line must have some of the following characteristics.

  • It is a line that is suitable for rail-based direct current electrification.
  • It is not a particularly stiff line with lots of gradients.
  • It is in a rural area, where National Grid connections will be difficult and expensive.
  • It has a connection to other lines electrified by rail-based systems.

Lines to electrify are probably limited to  Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail.

I also suspect there are several branch lines that could be reopened or electrified using rail-based electrification.

Riding Sunbeams

Note that the project is now called Riding Sunbeams.

Conclusion

It’s a brilliantly simple concept that should be developed.

It is well suited to be used with rail-based direct current electrification.

It would be ideal for the electrification of the Uckfield Branch.

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments