Energy Efficiency & Carbon

Creating the world’s first solar bridge at Blackfriars station

Winner: CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2013 – Energy & Carbon

Sustainability has been at the heart of the Thameslink Programme from the outset. In 2004 the Thameslink Programme committed to nine sustainability objectives as part of the programme’s Transport and Works Act Order (TWA) and embedded these objectives through the Thameslink Programme Sustainable Design and Construction Strategy.

A key driver for the Blackfriars station project was to achieve best in class performance in sustainable design and construction and as such the project team sought to achieve standards to far exceed basic requirements by targeting a CEEQUAL Excellent award

Restricting carbon emissions formed one of the Thameslink Programmes sustainability objectives. The Blackfriars Station project examined a number of options to meet this objective and following detailed evaluation the team established that the provision of photovoltaic (PV) roof cells spanning the bridge’s roof canopy would be the most suitable option. The incorporation of PV cells at Blackfriars Station is a flagship project, creating the ‘world’s first solar bridge’ and demonstrating the benefits of solar power and renewables on Britain’s rail network.

Over 4,400 PV panels spanning Blackfriars Bridge convert the sun’s light into electricity for use by the station.

Creating the world’s first solar bridge

The improvements being made at Blackfriars station not only provide a better journey experience for passengers and make London’s South Bank and other tourist attractions much more accessible, but also provides a sustainable station through the installation of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) roof array in UK.

As a company Network Rail has a commitment to recognise the challenges that climate change presents and the redevelopment of Blackfriars Station has given significant consideration to the long term implications of this challenge. As such as part of the Blackfriars redevelopment project the designers were able to incorporate over 6,000m² of PV panels onto the new roof of the historic structure, an area almost as large as Wembley stadiums football pitch.

The space offered on the roof, with no buildings overshadowing its location over the river Thames, provided the perfect location for solar. Over 4,400 PV panels spanning the bridge will convert the sun’s light into DC electricity with inverters converting the DC electricity to AC for use by the station. The panels, supplied by Panasonic, were designed to be light-weight to avoid undue load on the bridge. Installation was complex, working over a river and next to live overground and underground railways.

The roof will provide 1.058MW of renewable electricity at its peak, up to 50% of the stations energy, powering lighting, ticket machines, staff accommodation and office facilities with any excess electricity being fed back into the National Grid. The energy generated by the cells will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 550 tonnes a year, equivalent to flying from London Heathrow to Paris (return per passenger trip) 4508 times.

As well as raising awareness of PV cells and providing a benchmarking exercise for further understanding in the future the roof also provides a number of other benefits. For example the roof has been designed to be low maintenance due to no moving parts and has a micro smooth surface enabling self cleaning at a 5° tilt. The solar panels produce electricity by daylight, not sunlight, providing a highly reliable and predictable energy source.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email contact@thameslinkprogramme.co.uk