The first solar panels have been installed on the roof of Blackfriars Station

Work started today to install over 4,400 solar photovoltaic panels on the new Blackfriars station, which is being built on a Victorian bridge spanning the River Thames.

The structure, which forms the foundation of the station, will soon become the world’s largest solar bridge.

The solar panels will be incorporated into a roof for the bridge, and will cover over 6,000 sq m. They will generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity per year, providing 50% of the station’s energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 511 tonnes per year.

The finished station will include other energy-saving measures such as rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting. 

Network Rail is upgrading Blackfriars Station as part of the Thameslink programme, which will enable longer trains to run on the route linking Bedford, London and Brighton.

Lindsay Vamplew, Network Rail’s project director for Blackfriars, said: “We’re creating a spacious, modern station and delivering a vastly improved train service for passengers, while at the same time installing London’s largest solar array to make Blackfriars more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

“The Victorian bridge at Blackfriars is part of our railway history. Constructed in the age of steam, we’re bringing it bang up to date with twenty-first century solar technology to create an iconic station for the city.”

London-based firm Solarcentury worked with engineers Jacobs to incorporate solar PV into the station design. The high-efficiency solar modules used are manufactured by SANYO Electric Co. Ltd.

Derry Newman, chief executive of Solarcentury, said: “It’s fantastic to see this project finally come to fruition. Blackfriars Bridge is an ideal location for solar; a new, iconic large roof space, right in the heart of London.

“Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape and it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. Unknown to most, there are many hundreds of buildings now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future.”

Mr. Shigeki Komatsu, solar division director of SANYO Component Europe GmbH, said: “SANYO is very proud to have its HIT solar modules used in the redevelopment of Blackfriars Station.

“The high efficiency of our solar modules makes them ideal for structures where maximum power generation is required from an area where load must be considered. With our solar modules on this well known London landmark, SANYO hopes to raise awareness and understanding of solar and other renewable energy technologies, demonstrating how they can both help the city environment and minimise the onset of climate change.”