London's solar-powered bridge

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:10

Radiant heaters installed in homes can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a household, but there are many other factors that contribute to this pollution too. More efficient methods of heating and powering buildings are key to fighting climate change, yet transportation is a large culprit as well. Heated flooring won't do much for getting you from point A to B, but public transit will. To tackle this problem, the city of London has built the world's longest solar-powered bridge to be incorporated in the Blackfriar railway station as part of its goal to become a more energy-efficient city
Blackfriar BridgeIn a complicated project that took almost five years to complete, the Blackfriar Bridge has been outfitted with 4,400 photovoltaic panels that will produce 1.1 megawatts at its peak, according to Jetson Green. This will provide the station with around 50 percent of its needed power and it will create 900,000 kWh of electricity every year. Covering the complete surface area of the roof of the bridge has left 19,685 square feet of panels directed south to further add to the benefit of the station's public transportation.
Construction of the solar bridge was not easy either. In a long process that was even put on pause during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the structure of the bridge had to be reinforced first before any panels could be placed. This was a difficult task, as the Blackfriar Bridge was originally built in 1886, according to Solarcentury, the company responsible for the upgrade. The station itself was already being expanded to add multiple new platforms, so designers implemented solar power as a way to offset the increased energy demand the renovation needed. Not only did workers have to build above the waters of the Thames river, but also above an active railway the entire time.
The resulting product was not just a world record, but a bridge that keeps around 511 tons of carbon emissions out of the world a year.
Making London a cleaner placeFirst Capital Connect runs the Blackfriar train station and has worked to give its travelers a safe and clean alternative to other modes of transportation with higher carbon emissions.

"Electric trains are already the greenest form of public transport - this roof gives our passengers an even more sustainable journey. The distinctive roof has also turned our station into an iconic landmark visible for miles along the River Thames," David Statham, managing director, told The Guardian.
Along with the solar panels, other eco-friendly improvements were made as well, such as a collection system for rainwater and pipes used to reflect natural light indoors.
Now the people of London will have a very visible spokesperson for the potential of solar power in the form of the Blackfriar Bridge. "Network Rail has invested funds into the project is a great sign for the solar industry. They're an old English institution and they're looking to the future to make investments into non-core technologies for the business, and that's a great statement that other large corporations in the country can start realising," Suzanna Lashford, Solarcentury's head of commercial sales, said to The Guardian,
As more and more companies, countries and people begin to incorporate efficient technologies into buildings and other aspects of life, the world will have a chance to recover from the damage of fossil fuels while everyone reaps the benefits of innovation.