A WSP report says that installing solar panels along the side of Network Rail’s tracks could save them £150 million. This could help to offset/reduce the cost of the Network Rail’s energy usage plus reduce emissions without using any additional land. There is a little space to the sides of train tracks, as well as in between them. Solar panels are best equipped to take advantage of this because they are flat, enabling them to take advantage of that shallow space in between the tracks. That space will never be put to use otherwise, so they are a great spot for solar panels.
Unfortunately, the report says that Network Rail cannot afford such a project, however, it may be attractive to investors:
‘A scheme like this could generate revenue of £235m in its first year, a return on investment of over eight per cent,’ he said in a statement. ‘It benefits from having two guaranteed revenue streams – firstly through the Feed-in Tariff for renewable electricity but also by selling the electricity back to Network Rail at a reduced rate. It’s a win-win situation; the investors get a return and Network Rail could save millions of pounds on their electricity bill and reduce their carbon footprint without spending a penny.’
Julie Carrier, WSP’s U.K. head of rail, said that they are under great pressure to make the efficiency of the rail network due to declining public investment and increasing demand. As she said, the solar project could make Network Rail’s land work harder for them.