A world-first “solar train” is about to be officially launched on Saturday, using a disused line to provide a link between the township and the growing North Beach precinct of the holiday destination.
While developers in Europe are getting excited by new technologies that may allow trains to source 10 per cent of their electricity needs from solar, the Byron Bay solar train claims it will provide more than enough solar to power its newly installed electric power trains.
The train itself has some 6.5kW of “flexible” solar panels, courtesy of the new venture from “sun king” Zhengrong Shi, and its main platform has another 30kW (see photo above)
The train itself will carry 77kWh of Kokam battery storage, and will need only around 4kWh for each one-way trip, and will have opportunity to charge up at several points in the day.
It will also have a diesel engine to use in an emergency.
The solar train project has been funded by Brian Flannery and his partner. Flannery made his fortune out of coal mining and he now owns the Elements resort in North Byron that will be linked to the township by the train.
“We searched the country and found a dilapidated vintage train, restored it, and are now powering it with a 4.6 billion year old power source” said Jeremy Holmes, the development director at Byron Bay Railroad Company.
“We partnered with the incredible Tim Elderton from Lithgow Railway Workshop to restore the train and to oversee the solar conversion along with our other partners Nickel Energy and Elmofo.
“Local rail industry expert Geoff Clark has been guiding the project and helping to navigate the complex regulations and safety requirements”.
The Byron Bay train will operate a limited service until January when the full schedule will commence.
“With no support from government at any level the Byron Bay Railroad Company have delivered the worlds first solar train” said John Grimes, Chief Executive at the Smart Energy Council.
“True innovation meets roadblock upon roadblock so we congratulate this team on their incredible achievement. Hopefully this one train in regional Australia can demonstrate the possibilities of solar technology and the power of perseverance”.