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World's largest solar bridge completed in London

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January 30, 2014

Work has finished on Blackfriar's Bridge in London, now the largest solar bridge in the wo...

Work has finished on Blackfriar's Bridge in London, now the largest solar bridge in the world

Work has finished on what is now the largest solar bridge in the world. Blackfriars Bridge, part of Blackfriars Station in London, has been fitted with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, which are expected to reduce the station's CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes (563 tons) per year. Work began in spring 2009 and the station was operationally complete in time for the 2012 Olympics, with the solar array installation complete in March 2013. The full refurbishment of the station is now also complete.

The installation of the solar panels was part of the wider redevelopment of Blackfriars Station, which includes a new entrance on the south bank of the River Thames, four new platforms and a improved Underground station. The station is a key part of the £6.5 billion (US$10.72 billion) Thameslink Programme, which aims to increase train capacity on one of Europe's busiest stretches of railway running from north to south through central London.

The array of Panasonic 250 Wp panels is the largest solar array on a bridge in the world, covering a total area of 6,000 sq m (19,685 sq ft). Its maximum output is estimated at 1.1 MWp (megawatt peak) and it is expected to generate 900,000 kWh of electricity each year – over half the amount required to power the station. The panels are fixed and south-facing.

The installation of the array was highly complex, as it involved building on a Victorian bridge over an operational railway and the River Thames. A number of unexpected issues arose, including significant corrosion on the arches and required strengthening of the bridge.

"Our work at Blackfriars demonstrates two key benefits of solar," says Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury. "First, it can be integrated into the architecture to create a stunning addition to London’s skyline. Second, it can be integrated into the most complex of engineering projects; in this case being built above a construction site, over a rail track over a river."

Source: Network Rail

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts
7 Comments

The article somewhat misstates the fact that the station has new entrances on the south bank of the Thames.

The ENTIRE station was moved from its original position north of the river and rebuilt on the bridge. Therefore, people working on both banks of the Thames can now reach the station far more effectively.

Robt
30th January, 2014 @ 02:37 pm PST

Do these figures take into account London's notoriously overcast weather patterns?

JweenyPwee
30th January, 2014 @ 06:26 pm PST

as far as I know, solar panels works regardless of weather it is bright sunlight or overcast, as long as there is daylight.

OK, so it will be better if there is bright sunlight, but they will still generate even if it is overcast.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Suzanne Bradley
31st January, 2014 @ 03:04 am PST

I would rather put waterwheels under the bridge.

Slowburn
31st January, 2014 @ 09:42 am PST

Nope, Suzanne, you are right, solar panels will generate useful current even on fairly heavily overcast days. The regular rain will be helpful in washing debris off the glass. The larger point is the part about providing "over half the power" to operate the station. Incrementally increasing the arrays of panels across the urban to suburban landscape whilst including "power sharing" tools & software can very substantially decrease the amount of power that has to be put in from power stations. The long standing old arguments against alternative energy sources that they will never meet "base load requirements" will progressively be eroded in this way. Eventually such arguments will simply be seen to be irrelevant.

StWils
31st January, 2014 @ 10:08 am PST

@ StWils

Still only producing when the sun is up.

Slowburn
1st February, 2014 @ 06:17 am PST

dust and pollution stop the sunlight reaching the cells causing microshading. Rain will not move the grime only surfactants.or high pressure hoses. if they are washed daily this will reduce the shading and build up of grime, New service industry jobs as solar maintenance janitors.

Be sure to have safety harnesses for the janitors to do the job safely.

analogue girl
6th February, 2014 @ 01:30 am PST
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