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Colas uses solar on 97% emissions-free site

14 May 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

A project led by Network Rail and Colas rail has used solar lighting and power generation to achieve 97% diesel-free operation on a major rail renewal project at Llanwern, south Wales.

The initiative used solar and battery technologies from Prolectric instead of diesel generators to save a claimed 6,000 litres of fuel, and more than 15 tonnes of CO2 during a 14-day project centred around a 72-hour possession over the May Day bank holiday weekend.

The results support of Network Rail’s Control Period (CP) 6 target to reduce non-traction energy consumption by almost 20% and carbon emissions by 25%. 

Two 25kW Solatainer solar generators replaced conventional diesel generators providing light and heat for seven welfare cabins, including site offices, a canteen, toilets and a drying room. The Solatainer is modelled on a standard 20ft shipping container with an array of photovoltaic solar panels charging on-board lithium ion batteries.

A total of 21 Prolectric ProLightTM solar tower lights illuminated the site compound, car parking and work preparation areas, as well as being deployed on the trackside, where 200m of ProTrack battery-powered link lighting was also used. Prolectric ProTempTM column street lights were positioned along the access road to the site. The site also featured a new solar-powered Gate Guardian camera security system

Ryan Ballinger, production manager for Colas Rail, said: “It’s clear where we have learned the lessons from Llanwern so we can aim to close that small gap. We really want to get to that 100% fuel-free figure by the time of our next challenge, planned for a rail renewal project later in the summer.

“There’s no doubt these technologies are going to be a complete gamechanger and we need to push on to get to a place where using this type of technology is just business as usual. Moving forward we want to add smaller plant and tools such as disk saws and band saws.”

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