While electric vehicles have been on our roads for some years, low-emissions transport options for residents of Byron Bay now include the world's first fully solar powered train. It is powered by 6.6 kW of panels on the train's roof and boosted by a further 30kW of panel on the roof of the station storage shed.
The fully restored 1949-era two carriage heritage train travels between Bryon Bay's CBD and the growing North Beach precinct, offering a transport alternative to commuters, shoppers, and holidays makers. The train is operated by the not-for-profit Byron Bay Railroad Company.
To power the train, one of the two diesel engines was replaced with two electric motors, inverters and a Lithium-ion bank of batteries. The solar panels on the carriages' roof were specially designed to fit the curved profile, allowing the train to generate up to 6.5 kW of power. Solar panels on the trainshed roof generate a further 30 kW of electricity which is used to top up the train's battery bank. Even the braking system is used to generate power, with energy from the brakes directed back to the batteries.
The solar system is so efficient that it not only powers the train, but electricity generated is fed back into the grid. Of the solar power generated, less than a quarter is required to power the train; the remainder is used to power the Byron community via a local green energy supply company.
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