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Trams running on solar power

A unique connection between the eco solar park ‘t Oor in The Hague and the power grid of regional operator HTM allows trams of Randstadrail 3 and 4 to run on solar power. A great story to tell today, on the longest day of the year.

HTM is a public transport company in the Netherlands operating trams, light rail and buses in The Hague. With our contribution to the development of the eco solar park we have made another step in our sustainable ambitions. Between the tracks near Mariahoeve and Voorburg, 4,700 solar panels were installed, producing over 1.5 Gigawatt hours per year. 

“We were leading in the project, connecting the customer, contractor and subcontractors”, says Gertjan van Keulen, project coordinator at the cables and pipelines division of Strukton Rail Netherlands. “We acted as the pivot in the organisation. This kind of application of solar energy is an entirely new development. The alignment of the requirements therefore took quite some effort.”

Direct connection

On behalf of Sunprojects, Strukton Rail laid the 10 kV cables to connect the high voltage to the HTM grid. We also led the installation of the substation and were responsible for other cabling work. The high yield makes this project special. Normally, the direct current is converted into alternating current and fed into the public grid. Energy loss occurs due to the conversion and transportation of energy. We have applied an innovative method allowing the generated direct current of the solar panels to be transported directly to the overhead lines, which minimises this loss. This means a possible breakthrough for a new standard in directly supplying sustainable electricity to rail networks.

Energy transition

Gertjan is enthusiastic about the project that was done successfully last year. “This is a unique development in the field of the energy transition that I would be happy to explore further. The plans are at an early stage, but we are definitely considering this. The opportunities are technically available for trains as well, by e.g. connecting the catenary system to solar power. Railway lines are often located on fallow pieces of land, which are highly suitable for solar parks.”