Train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has agreed contracts with community climate action group Energy Garden to install solar panels at three of its main depots.
The cooperative energy agreement will see almost 6,000 solar panels installed on train shed roofs at Bedford, Selhurst in South London, and Three Bridges in Sussex, transforming them into local sources of renewable energy and funding for community development projects.
While the Bedford scheme is predicted to generate over 330 MWh (megawatt hours) of energy a year, Energy Garden and GTR expect the larger installations at Selhurst and Three Bridges to produce a further 1.7 GWh (gigawatt hours) each year.
The total combined annual output from the three depots would boil enough kettles to make over 47 million cups of tea!
The panels are projected to save over 9,000 tonnes of CO2and generate 42.6 GWh of electricity over a 20-year period, with the profits from energy sales being invested in community development.
Approximately 50 per cent of the electricity generated will be sold directly to GTR to power the depots. Energy Garden will export the remainder to other businesses keen to improve their community and sustainability credentials. As a not-for-profit organisation, Energy Garden will then invest surplus income over and above the project costs into local community development. Energy Garden works with more than 50 community groups across London's rail network.
The new contracts follow a successful trial partnership with Energy Garden and Network Rail at GTR's Streatham Hill depot in South London, where over 500 solar panels were installed on the roof in 2021. Last year the PV array at Streatham Hill generated 215 MWh of energy.
Jason Brooker, Head of Environment at GTR, commented: "We all know that traveling by rail is a sustainable option. However, at GTR we want to ensure that our commitment to decarbonisation and sustainability is clear for our passengers to see.
"We already take measures such as ensuring all the electricity we use across our stations and depots comes from green energy tariffs using renewable energy assets, as well as looking at our efficiency - from the LED lights to the way we heat our offices.
"Creating our own energy through the solar panel network is the next logical step. We are delighted with the success of the Streatham Hill trial, and of our other solar power installations at Blackfriars and Denmark Hill - this new agreement to expand the programme means more savings and more community investment to come."
Agamemnon Otero, Founder and CEO of Energy Garden, said: "The partnership between GTR and Energy Garden has changed the UK railway for ever. The Streatham Hill Depot solar project demonstrated the power of community-owned solar to passengers and is now funding social and environmental transformation in London. With this new franchise agreement of 2.5MW of community-owned solar power, Energy Garden and GTR continue to set an example for a more sustainable railway."