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Swiss Startup Aims to Generate Solar Power On Top of Railway Tracks

published: 2023-03-08 9:30

Swiss Federal Railways servers as the lifeline of the country’s tourism and transportation, and now a Swiss startup has come up with an idea that paves solar panels between either sides of the railway tracks to make the best use of these tracks that are usually idling.

Swiss startup Sun-Ways is currently developing a solar cell system that is exclusively placed between either sides of railway tracks. The entire system moves forward on top of the tracks just like any trains whilst paving solar panels in between the tracks under an easy and fast approach. Of course, the system is also retractable to facilitate track maintenance, which first retracts the solar panels to avoid obstruction and damages during operations.

Sun-Ways has thus decided to work with École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne on developing customized solar panels that can facilitate easy mechanic installations and dismantling in between railway tracks, as well as establishing a production factory. The finished products will be paved on the tracks of Transports Publics Neuchâtelois SA., and the developed system is expected to initiate operation starting from May 2023.

The exclusive solar panels are pre-assembled at the factory, before they are installed at a specially designed carriage, where the system, resembling the laying of carpets, are paved in between railway tracks with the tailored solar panels when the carriage advances on the tracks. The system retracts these solar panels just like rolling a carpet when tracks are in need of maintenance.

Sun-Ways believe that there is a relatively large level of potential commercial opportunities in Switzerland alone, should the actual operation go smoothly, since the total length of railway tracks in Switzerland that currently sits at 7,000km could generate considerable power if they are all paved with solar panels. Sun-Ways is also targeting the international market. Europe consists of 260,000km of railway tracks, while the entire world comprises 1.16 million km of railway tracks. The startup commented that it has begun negotiating with European and American investors on mass production.

 (Cover photo source: Sun-Ways)

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