Solar panels at Zürich Seebach railway station, source: SBB

Switzerland generates traction current with solar panels

Solar panels at Zürich Seebach railway station, source: SBB

Swiss railway operator SBB is moving further in implementing its energy-saving policy. The company has started to generate traction energy with the help of solar panels. In five years, SBB will consume only traction current produced from renewable sources.

To generate solar traction current, SBB installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of the frequency converter at Zürich Seebach railway station. This photovoltaic system has a capacity for generating around 130,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. It is enough to cover 1.4 million passenger-kilometres per year (one passenger-kilometre corresponds to the transportation of a passenger over one kilometrу).

No need for energy conversion

The Swiss railway operator has already equipped 12 its buildings with solar consoles. All of them are able to produce conventional household electricity at a frequency of 50 Hertz. In contrast to them, the installation at Zürich Seebach station directly generates traction electricity at a frequency of 16.7 Hertz. As a result, SBB has got another energy-saving tool as it does not need to convert energy that results in losses at a level of 15 per cent.

Ambitious goal

It is worth to note that SBB consumes around 90 per cent of the electricity that is generated by hydropower plants, mainly by SBB-owned facilities. However, the company’s hydropower plans generate traction current at an inadequate level. Therefore, SBB purchases household electricity from the national grid and converts it to the traction current by using frequency converters. By 2025, the Swiss operator plans to consume only green energy produced from renewable sources, and solar energy is crucial for achieving this goal.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko was editor of online trade magazines and

2 comments op “Switzerland generates traction current with solar panels”

jason leahy|25.06.20|23:09

French SNCF and I think German DB plans to install solar farms,Indian Railways pv farms will be connected to the grid not 3rd rails/overhead cables.Riding Sunbeams Ltd installed a community owned pv farm in Aldershot,Surrey,England for 3rd rail trains and is developing 25kv inverters for overhead cables in Wales.I could’t find out if OBB new inverter,3rd prize at EPCON Awards 2015,linking a pv farm to Ostbahn line,Austria is 25kv or 15kv,if former Riding Sunbeams could use the design in Wales.

John Hicks|28.01.22|12:38

Good informative article

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