Switzerland generates traction current with solar panels
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.
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.