Solar trams are coming to Melbourne and that’s a massive deal for the city, state and country. Melbourne has the largest operating tram network in the world with 250km of track with a staggering 1,763 stops and the trams run more than 20 hours per day. Back in 2013-14 the network serviced 176.9 passenger trips, which in 3 years has certainly grown with the population.
Melbourne’s trains are traditionally powered by overhead cables that draw power from the electricity grid, meaning this mode of public transport is ripe for a transition to a renewable power source like solar, that costs a one off investment, which can then power the trams for years with the free source of the sun.
While I’d hoped they were going to strap solar panels to the top of the trams, given the large surface area and the mostly outdoors routes. I would have loved to see the trams collect and store energy locally using battery technology, but perhaps the power to weight equation may not add up right now. The Government is taking a different approach.
The Government’s Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change and Minister for Suburban Development, Lily D’Ambrosio, today announced they’ll build a large scale solar plant to power the network. An Andrews Labor Government will run a tender process to help build a 75MW large scale solar farm to deliver $150 million in new capital investment and 300 new jobs.
Around 35MW of the new solar farms will be linked to Melbourne’s tram network. The Government will voluntarily surrender renewable energy certificates matching the amount of electricity used by all of Melbourne’s trams. This will result in a reduction of more than 80,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
An open tender will be run in the first half of this year, with a completion date of the end of 2018.
It seems the minister is fond of electric vehicles, back in May 2015, she attended the launch of Telsa’s Melbourne store, if only more of our politicians felt the same.