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Switzerland Set to Roll Out Solar Panels Between Railway Tracks–A World First

Switzerland Set to Roll Out Solar Panels Between Railway Tracks–A World First

Sun-Ways via SWNS

Europe’s love of train travel is about to transform the continent’s solar energy production as the Swiss are set to begin installing solar panels in between train tracks.

The startup called Sun-Ways is waiting for a sign-off from the Federal Office of Transport to start installing their panels between the tracks near Buttes Station in the west of the country.

With the Swiss national railway network stretching beyond 2,000 miles of track, estimates place the amount of power generation at potentially beyond 1 terawatt hour or 2% of the entire gross annual consumption.

“There are over a million kilometers of railway lines in the world,” co-founder Baptiste Danichert tells SWI Swissinfo. “We believe that 50% of the world’s railways could be equipped with our system.”

A great way to incorporate solar panels into an economy is to find a place where flat ground is used by other industries, like canals, pastures, or warehousing.

Some companies use solar panels to generate power over agriculture, a strategy called “agrivoltaics” while India and California use their massive canal networks and hot sun to generate power while saving land.

Sun-Ways via SWNS

MORE CLEVER SOLAR USAGE: Giant Floating Solar Panel Flowers Replace Coal in Korea and Become Tourist Destination

Sun-Ways’ invention uses a specialized train car to lay down solar panels as if it were unrolling a carpet to save on labor costs.

At the moment, the idea is facing some pushback, including concern that the reflection of the sun off the panels could distract drivers, and that in areas with heavy snowfall, the panels would be a large waste of money.

Dust, debris, and damage from the vibrations of the rails could all potentially interfere the panels, but Sun-Ways have said they are taking all of this into account with the design and materials of the panels. For dust, they added that brushes could be attached to the undersides of trains to clean the panels as they drive by.

Their pilot at Buttes remains highly anticipated.

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