Deutsche Bahn is testing: Solar cells on the track offer the potential of nuclear power plants


Occupying the space between the tracks with solar modules: this is the subject of a test by Deutsche Bahn and the British company Bankset. The potential is huge.

The space between the rails offers a good place for the photovoltaic modules.

The space between the rails offers a good place for the photovoltaic modules. (Source: Bankset Energy)

  • In a partnership project, Deutsche Bahn is exploring the use of solar modules on the sleepers between the tracks together with the British company Bankset Energy.
  • Photovoltaic modules could help with Deutsche Bahn’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2040.

Solar cells can now also be found in unusual places. In a curved shape on electric cars, for example. In the form of awnings. There are windows and solar cells in the form of stickers.

The idea of ​​installing solar panels between railroad tracks has been around for a few years. So far, the technology has failed to establish itself across the board, even if the space seems ideal. The railway lines are frequently maintained and are devoid of trees and bushes. But there are unanswered questions, such as the wear and tear of passing trains.

As reported by several media outlets, including the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Deutsche Bahn, together with Bankset Energy, is examining the space between the tracks for the use of large-scale solar systems. A spokeswoman for the railways told Netzwelt about the project:

Bankset Energy Group is currently testing solar modules on railway sleepers on the DB test field at the Erzgebirge railway. In the test field, DB provides companies with binaries and systems to test innovative products. Companies, including Bankset Energy Group, can gain experience in such conditions under real-world conditions to see if their technologies are working and producing the desired effects. Testing will initially take place regardless of whether DB will use the technology itself in its route network.

Speaker of the Bahn in Netzwelt

It looks promising: the British company calculates that 100 kilowatts of electricity could be generated per kilometer of railway line. Extrapolated to the DB railway network, which is more than 60,000 kilometers long, this means an energy production comparable to the production of five nuclear power plants.

In an earlier version of the article, it was written that 100 kilowatts of electricity could be generated per 100 kilometers of railway line. We changed it to 100 kilowatts per kilometer of track. We apologize for this mistake. We also added a quote from a railroad spokesman to the article.

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