Solar Train Byron Bay | Nickel Energy

At the end of 2017, the Byron Bay Railroad Company officially launched the world’s first ever solar powered train. The company restored a derelict heritage train, repaired three kilometres of railway line and a bridge. They also reinvigorated and consequently preserved a section of an out of action rail corridor to provide a heritage rail service linking two key Byron Bay centres.

The train operates directly from energy powered by the sun. Solar panels have been installed onto the train and the train storage shed. These panels generate the equivalent amount of energy required to operate the train daily, and are responsible for charging the on-board battery bank. This is a world-first truly solar train and we at Nickel Energy are proud to be partners on such a momentous project.

How Does it Work?

The Solar Train Byron Bay project combined revolutionary technology with expert engineering solutions. The train has had one of the original diesel engines removed and a pair of electric traction motors and inverters. Topping it off is a Lithium-ion battery bank. The special curved solar panels that have been fitted to the roof od both carriages collect solar energy and can generate up to 6.5kW of solar power which charge the train’s batteries. The large array of solar panels installed on the storage shed generate a further 30kW of energy which can also be used to further charge the train’s batteries. The train is also equipped with a regenerative braking system that turns the traction motors into generators during braking to recharge the batteries. All the equipment on the train is powered from the Lithium-ion batteries including traction power, lighting, air compressors and control circuits. To reduce electrical consumption all lighting has been replaced with LED’s.

Recognition and Awards

The Solar Train Bryon Bay project was the recipient of many awards in 2018. Nickel Energy was proud to receive the Australian Engineering Excellence Award for their contribution towards the successful revolutionary project. The project also managed to secure two golds at the 2018 Good Designs awards earlier in 2018. The Train has also won the Rail Sustainability Award at the Australasian Rail Association Awards in 2018.