February 7, 2014 – London has just taken over from Australia in creating the world’s largest span of solar arrays on a bridge surface. Some 4,400 solar panels have been installed to cover the Blackfriars Railway Bridge, part of the London Underground. The panels have a capacity to produce 900,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
The bridge crosses the Thames River and dwarfs the previous record holder, the Kurilpa Bridge, a pedestrian right of way that crosses the Brisbane River in Australia. That bridge’s solar array powers its LED lighting.
When asked about the new railway bridge’s unique power source the British comment was “you can make almost 80,000 cups of tea a day from the energy generated by these photovoltaic panels.” No mention of biscuits, cucumber sandwiches and clotted cream however.
But seriously this type of application of solar power makes great sense. Bridges are usually fully exposed to the Sun’s rays unlike rooftop solar panels which can find themselves in shadow for part of the day. So I suspect we will see many future installations similar to this and Blackfriars’ record may soon fall.