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World largest solar bridge: 4400 panels end-to-end 1886-Victorian bridge on Thames w/ rail station 900000kwh of electricity/yr


By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 30 December 2014


The Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which houses the London Underground's Blackfriars station, opened recently and is covered end-to-end with solar panels, making it the largest solar bridge in the world. The bridge is covered with 4,400 solar panels which will produce about 900,000 kWh of electricity annually, or about 50 percent of the station's annual electricity output.

world's largest solar-powered bridge at Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames


Solar-powered lights illuminate the 1,542-foot-long Kurilpa Bridge

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A new twist on a legendary structure: Over 4,400 solar panels compose the roof of Blackfriars bridge in the City of London, making it the largest solar-powered bridge in the world. The old Victorian bridge was built across the river Thames in 1886, but unlike other bridges throughout the city, it also operates as a railway station to serve commuters from all the surrounding areas, while offering a stunning view. Being the first station to span the river Thames, the bridge has always had high demands on power. In 2009 it received a makeover: the wrought-iron bridge was dismantled and rebuilt to generate its own power using the sun. A new roof was installed, housing solar panels over 6000 square meters, which is enough to cover 23 tennis courts. On a sunny day, the canopy can produce up to a megawatt of electricity.

The bridge reopened in 2012 and the installation of the array was part of a larger upgrading project involving the station as a whole to cater for more passengers and improve services. "It generates enough electricity to make about 80,000 cups of tea a day," explains Chris Binns, head of engineering at Network Rail who led the upgrade.

The use of solar power now provides up to 50 percent of the energy needed at the station and is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 511 tonnes per year. The increased production of solar panels worldwide, particularly in China, has brought the previously high expense of solar cells plummeting down to make designs like this more affordable. "It's a wonderful showcase of how Britain can actually build something that's significant," says Professor Ned Ekins-Daukes, an expert on solar energy at Imperial College London. "This is the most powerful bridge in the world and it's using solar power in Britain, not a country well known for its sunshine."

Cities across the world are increasingly harnessing the sun's energy, with landmarks as iconic as the Eiffel tower and Taj Mahal planning to incorporate solar panels into their architecture. If the gray skies of London can accomplish such results across the Thames, imagine the potential elsewhere.

The Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which houses the London Underground's Blackfriars station, opened recently and is covered end-to-end with solar panels, making it the largest solar bridge in the world. London has numerous iconic bridges that span the River Thames. Now the city can add another to the list. The Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which houses the London Underground's Blackfriars station, opened recently and is covered end-to-end with solar panels, making it the largest solar bridge in the world.

The bridge is covered with 4,400 solar panels which will produce about 900,000 kWh of electricity annually, or about 50 percent of the station's annual electricity output.

In Australia there's the Kurilpa Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that uses solar panels to power its LED lighting system. But London's new bridge is on another level and there isn't anything like it in the world.

While a bridge is a smart place to put solar panels because it offers a continuous stretch of square footage that's rare in a dense city like London without taking up valuable land, don't be surprised if it retains the title of "largest solar bridge" for some time.

That's because building a bridge with a roof covered in solar panels poses some challenges. According to Eurosafe UK, the company that installed the safety systems required to do maintenance on the solar panels, "this was, logistically speaking, the most challenging project Eurosafe has ever worked on." And for Solarcentury, the company that installed the solar panels, the project posed much bigger challenges than adding solar panels to a warehouse or green belt, according to BusinessGreen.

The transformation of the bridge into a solar powerhouse is the finishing touch of a larger redevelopment project of the station and bridge that has been going on since 2009.

"The dramatic transformation of Blackfriars station from a small and cramped station to a modern landmark is typical of how we are enhancing one of Europe’s busiest rail routes – using smart, sustainable technology to reduce the cost of running the railway at the same time as giving passengers the longer, more frequent trains that are so desperately needed," said Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail Infrastructure Projects.

World's largest solar-powered bridge opens in London

The world's biggest solar power plants
Five out of the ten largest operational solar power plants are in the US, while Spain and Germany each house two of the world's largest solar power facilities. China too is contending to become a renewable power centre, winning a place in the top ten list. Power-technology.com profiles the world's ten largest operational solar plants.

London’s new solar bridge is the largest in the world
Network Rail, which is responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure, just opened the “world’s largest solar-powered bridge” — which stretches across the Thames, has 4,400 solar panels on it, and will provide half the energy to central London’s Blackfriars train station. Looking forward to an all-solar London Bridge!

The bridge is lit with a sophisticated LED lighting system which can be programmed to produce an array of different lighting effects. Depending on lighting configurations, 75%-100% of the power required is provided by solar energy.[5] All electrical work was done by Stowe Australia. The Kurilpa Bridge (originally known as the Tank Street Bridge) is a (A$)$63 million pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Brisbane River in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The bridge connects Kurilpa Point in South Brisbane to Tank Street in the Brisbane central business district. In 2011, the bridge was judged World Transport Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival.

Kurilpa Bridge is the world’s largest hybrid tensegrity bridge. Only the horizontal spars conform to tensegrity principles. The Kurilpa Bridge is a multiple-mast, cable-stay structure based on principles of tensegrity producing a synergy between balanced tension and compression components to create a light structure which is incredibly strong.

The bridge is 470m long with a main span of 128m and features two large viewing and relaxation platforms, two rest areas, and a continuous all-weather canopy for the entire length of the bridge. A canopy is supported by a secondary tensegrity structure.[5] It is estimated that 550 tons of structural steel including 6.8 kilometres (4.2 mi) of helical strand cable are incorporated into the bridge.

Solar-powered lights illuminate the 1,542-foot-long Kurilpa Bridge
We asked our Facebook fans: What cities should we feature? Tina Grandinetti and John Symonds both suggested Brisbane—"Australia's hippest city," Grandinetti says. Solar-powered lights illuminate the 1,542-foot-long Kurilpa Bridge, which gives pedestrians and bicyclists safe passage over a highway and the Brisbane River. The bridge, which opened in 2009, lands at the Gallery of Modern Art.

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Photos courtesy of Network Rail, smartplanet.com, worldfutureenergysummit.com, National Geographic, and Wikipedia

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