A Project that is being led by Network Rail and Colas rail has utilised solar lighting and power generation to create a site of the future. This site, located in Llanwern, South Wales is now 97% diesel free.
Through the use of solar and battery technologies from Prolectric Ltd instead of diesel generators, they were able to save 6,000 litres of fuel as well as 15 tonnes of CO2 throughout a 14-day project. This is being considered a remarkable achievement whereby off-grid working was achieved while also being carbon-free. This has helped contribute towards the target put in place by Network Rail where it plans to reduce energy consumption by 20% and carbon emissions by 25%.
The site, which covered more than 21 acres, used solar lighting and power generation throughout the site which included roads, cabins, car parking and the track working area where the London to Cardiff mainline joins the Llanwern Steelworks. The project lasted for two weeks and had more than 70 staff working on the site.
Carrying out rail renewal has always relied on diesel generators for off-grid power, however, new solar technologies are now being seen as a viable alternative that can help to meet non-traction carbon targets while also reducing noise, fumes and pollution. Running diesel generators has a significant impact on the environment while they are also seen as a disturbance to neighbours. However, through using solar, pollution is significantly reduced while the neighbours remain happy.
The use of on-site solar tower lights is something that has been worked on for some times but now, the addition of solar generators is a real game-changer. Moving forward, the aim is to use smaller plant and tools such as disk saws and band saws. These new technologies are changing how works are being carried out and they will continue to do so. Now, Network Rail aims to rely on the technology to the point where it becomes a normal part of the business.