I love trains. Seriously, I do. Trains, train stations, conductor hats, The Little Engine That Could, the word caboose…I love it all. Can’t get enough. I remember riding with my mother on “The Ocean” when I was just a little tyke. The Ocean runs from Montreal to Halifax and has a dome car with 360° views. We sat in that car for hours gazing at the stars and singing “City of New Orleans,” which was the only train song we mutually appreciated. As an adult, I still fantasize about taking train trips. I’m actually hoping to take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the next few years. Don’t worry — I’m already stocking up on warm winter hats. Brrrrrrrr.
Speaking of trains, did you know that Sungevity is the first brand ever to take over all of the advertising on Amtrak’s Acela? Our snazzy back-lit posters and seat-back information placards will be on the Acela trains until the end of the month. We are also sponsoring the trains’ wifi. Chugga chugga, chugga chugga, WOOOO HOOOOO!
It leaves you thinking – if solar can take over the Acela, what else can it take over?
In Europe, the high speed Thalys train that links Paris to Amsterdam just got an upgrade. Along the route there is now a 3.6km stretch of tunnel that is covered by 16,000 solar panels. Together they span an area of approximately 12 acres and produce 3.3 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity each year.
Is 3.3 MWh a lot? It’s roughly enough to meet the annual electric needs of 1,000 households, which seems pretty impressive until you think about the fact that the flux capacitor on the DeLorean time machine required 1.21 GW to operate 😛
If you want to see the tunnel in action, so to speak, check out this video.
Pro Tip: You only need to watch the first 15 seconds of so of the video unless you REALLY love looking at solar panels; all 3 minutes and 7 seconds of it are pretty much the same.
Okay. Quick recap. Sungevity covered the Acela in solar (advertising) and Enfinity covered a tunnel in Europe in solar (panels). What else could be smothered in sunshiney deliciousness? Those of you who live in California can probably think of something major; and when I say major I mean MAJOR. Do you know what the single largest energy consumer is in California? It’s the State Water Project (SWP), which moves water from Northern California to Southern California via a system of pumps and channels. The SWP accounts for 6.5% of the state’s total energy usage!
NYT’s Green Blog pontificated on putting floating solar arrays on the California Aqueduct back in April, but people have been talking about solarizing the SWP for years now…and why not? It seems like an obvious next step for the state that is leading the nation in solar installations.
Do you have solar on your roof? If you could put a large-scale solar system somewhere where would you put it?