Byron bay's world-first solar train gets ready to trundle | RenewEconomy

Byron bay’s world-first solar train gets ready to trundle

World-first solar train – running with its own solar and battery storage – to be launched in Byron Bay on Saturday.


solar train 1

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”.


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  1. Joe 3 years ago

    Just loving Byron’s spectacular solar train. But wouldn’t you know it, the Rupert and his newsrags were at it again recently in trying to take down the wonderful achievement of Byron Bay and its world’s first Solar Train. Drumming up the fake fears like they did with Wind Farms / Turbines….”a rail line doesn’t look good”, ‘It’s too noisy”, “it will affect property values”….I mean city living is so visually appealing and oh so quiet all the time, yes. Rupert and his newsrags opinionators must try harder.

    • MrMauricio 3 years ago

      Ruperts developer mates (advertising constantly on his rags)have no qualms about building their multi storey glass n cement boxes all along the “noisy”inner suburban train and tram routes in Melbourne-and they are visually appalling

      • Joe 3 years ago

        It is coming to Sydney as well.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Oh for fox sake!

  2. Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

    Well just going out to the surge (rocky) takeoff at The Pass, and riding it deeply into the lagoon, OMG what a life changing experience. Y’all have to do it. Don’t quote me just get that fantastic experience for yourself.

  3. DavidFilmart 3 years ago

    Rapid success for this non-govt project. Compare the National Audit report on the complete failure at $400 million of the Clean Coal fantasy.

  4. MaxG 3 years ago

    Quite impressive that it runs on 77kWh battery… nice.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Beautiful ain’t it Max, just peachy!

  5. solarguy 3 years ago

    Byron over Chrissy, he we come, just gotta check her out!

  6. Ben Davies 3 years ago

    This is bonkersly brilliant – a solar powered train in the sunniest continent on earth. If there are very small inclines and regenerative braking then very little energy usage.

    if you look at the “Fully Charged” YouTube channel there is something similar having a battery powered train but not solar powered being the UK. I should imagine a train could carry a battery weighing several tens of tonnes with relative ease.

    I really need to take a holiday in Byron very soon.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      …catch the train to Byron and change trains for …The Solar Train…compare the rides.

    • Alan S 3 years ago

      On the Deeside railway at Banchory in NE Scotland there’s a battery powered railcar built in 1958.

  7. Ian 3 years ago
    • neroden 3 years ago

      Well, rail is best for high ridership, and pointless for low ridership. But that doesn’t need to mean full grade separation, and speeds can be raised incrementally.

  8. Noel Patterson 3 years ago

    what a fabulous achievement…well done to all involed

  9. al edg 3 years ago

    That’s brilliant. I wonder if they could do the same with the savannahlander

    • neroden 3 years ago

      They could. Bigger battery needed, that’s all. (This one has a battery smaller than my car!)

  10. Nic C 3 years ago

    A fantastic project!

    I only heard about it on ABC this morning, no glorified rag (Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph) seems to have enough space between their puff pieces and Reddit steals and actual news!

  11. Peter Lynch 3 years ago

    Run it out to the Bluesfest and Splendor sites and it will have a real impact rather than being a novelty/prototype.

    • Michael 3 years ago

      Would need a fair bit of infrastructure development to have a station and crossing up there though; very different to this dirt cheap reactivation of a single hop between a couple of existing stations.

      I mean really the entire branch line would be useful to run services on again, but I can’t see it happening, unfortunately.

  12. David Keech 3 years ago

    So, could we make a truly independent 100% solar powered train?

    This one uses 4kWh in 10 minutes which is 24kWh in 1 hour, so it needs to produce 24kW from the solar panels on its roof to power it indefinitely. It’s currently producing 6.5kW from the panels on its roof and it looks to be less than 50% covered in panels. If we could imagine it with twice as many solar panels on the roof, and then throw in some extra efficiency improvements such as solid solar panels, tilting them to face the sun, improved aerodynamics and things like that, it looks pretty close to being feasible.

    You would still want backup deisel on board but long distances without needing a recharge station should be possible.

  13. Joe 3 years ago

    Just when we were all rejoicing in Byron’s Solar Spectacular I am reading in ‘The Echo’, Byron Bays local newspaper, that The Belongil Action Group Association, property owners living along the 3km of rail line of our solar train, are taking court action to stop the solar train in its tracks. No doubt our action group would much prefer the sounds and revs of motor vehicles all day rather than the occasional toot from the solar train.

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