The U.K. renewable energy investor says it plans to cover the world’s railway network system – said to be over one million km long when added together – with solar PV panels.
Bankset Energy began its journey in Bern, Switzerland, on private industrial track connected to the SBB/CFF track; and started installing 200 MW worth of panels on 1,000 km of rail track in Saxony, Germany, in June. The latter is set to be completed in 2019, and extended to 10,000 km by 2022.
The company is also working on projects in the United Kingdom, France, the United States, China and Italy; and is gearing up for more in Austria and Spain, Bankset Group president, Patrick Buri, tells pv magazine, adding that either Bankset Rails Group installs the projects, or it works with several rail specialists, such as Sersa Rail Group.
Regarding project times, Buri says that if the line is completely closed, “we can install 1,000 km in one to four months.”
“Using patented technology, solar panels made of silicone and aluminium are designed to clip over existing railway sleepers. These are currently made from concrete, wood and steel – proven technologies that have stood the test of time,” read a statement from the company on the technology.
It continued, “The Bankset Energy System transforms the existing technology into a cutting edge energy system, without affecting the infrastructure and avoiding the cost of replacing existing sleepers.”
Buri says Bankset uses solar cells manufactured from an unidentified producer in California, United States, while the Bankset Energy solar panel system is assembled in Europe in two manufacturing centers. “We also have a manufacturing center in Asia – China – but Bankset Energy is designed by Bankset Energy Group in Switzerland and the U.K.,” he says.
Bankset is also said to be in discussions with a number of sleeper manufacturers to develop the technology and adapt its product to fit all existing sleepers. Responding to which companies, specifically, it works with, Buri says, “For rails we work with Deutsche Bahn Systems Technic and TUV, we have many partners for rails and solar. We also work with Plasser & Theurer.”