World’s largest solar-powered bridge makes Britain’s biggest brew for commuters: The world's biggest cup of tea - at Blackfriars station

Wednesday 22 Jan 2014

World’s largest solar-powered bridge makes Britain’s biggest brew for commuters

Region & Route:
South East

Network Rail, First Capital Connect and Solarcentury surprised passengers arriving at Blackfriars station this morning with a free cuppa drawn from Britain’s biggest tea cup to celebrate the launch of the world’s largest solar bridge.

The 4,400 photovoltaic panels cover the roof of the station and produce enough energy to make almost 80,000 cups of tea a day.

In fact, London’s longest array provides up to half of the station’s energy, reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year – equivalent approximately to 89,000 (average) car journeys.

The array crowns the revamped Blackfriars station, which now boasts a new entrance on the south bank of the Thames, four new platforms and a redeveloped Underground station, offering longer trains and a better interchange between First Capital Connect and London Underground services. It sits at the heart of the £6.5 billion Thameslink Programme, transforming the route through central London to provide longer, more frequent services.

Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, said: “The dramatic transformation of Blackfriars station from a small and cramped station to a modern landmark is typical of how we are enhancing one of Europe’s busiest rail routes – using smart, sustainable technology to reduce the cost of running the railway at the same time as giving passengers the longer, more frequent trains that are so desperately needed.”

David Statham, Managing Director of First Capital Connect which runs Blackfriars station, said: “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.”

The installation of the 6000m2 of PV panels was carried out by Solarcentury. Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury, said: “Our work at Blackfriars demonstrates two key benefits of solar. First, it can be integrated into the architecture to create a stunning addition to London’s skyline. Second, it can be integrated into the most complex of engineering projects; in this case being built above a construction site, over a rail track over a river. We are confident that future major infrastructure projects can and will benefit from solar.”

Notes to editors

Britain’s biggest cup of tea measures 3.1m tall with a diameter of 2.1m.

About Thameslink
Network Rail is delivering the £6.5billion Thameslink Programme which will increase capacity on one of Europe's busiest stretches of railway - the Thameslink route – running north-south through central London. Once complete, it will deliver:
• Redeveloped stations including London Bridge, Blackfriars and Farringdon
• More frequent Thameslink route service through central London, helping reduce crowding on other routes
• Longer trains giving passengers more space
• New trains with more space on the Thameslink route
• Train services to more destinations including Cambridge and Peterborough

Blackfriars station
The new Blackfriars station opened in 2012 as part of the Thameslink Programme which will in the future deliver longer trains and more frequent services between a range of destinations through central London. We’ve built a brand new station on top of a Victorian rail bridge and it is the first station to span the River Thames. Benefits include:
• A new entrance on the South Bank and Bankside - making attractions such as the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe more accessible
• A new entrance on the north bank on New Bridge Street
• Longer platforms can accommodate longer trains, meaning more space for passengers
• Four new platforms with space for high frequency services
• Easier changes between national rail and London Underground

Solar bridge
The system is the largest array on a bridge in the world, and provides up to 50% of the stations energy.
• System size: 1.1 MWp
• No of panels: 4,400
• Area of Solar PV system: 6000m 2
• Annual generation: 900,000 kWh
• Annual CO2 savings: 513,000 kg

Please note these are estimations only, correct at time of installation

About Solarcentury
Solarcentury is one of the most respected solar companies in the world. Founded in 1998, we have been around since the early days of the solar industry and have been part of the evolution that has made PV the attractive investment it is today. We have put solar on a greater variety of sites than any other company in the industry, and have won multiple awards for product innovation.

We work directly with our clients to design and install commercial, industrial and utility scale solar. We also supply our products and services to installers and distributors. All of our customers benefit from our experience in terms of engineering quality, superior yields and sheer breadth of deployment.

We are a big believer in helping solar PV change our world for the better and contribute 5% of our net profits every year to the charity we founded, SolarAid, which aims to eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa by 2020.

Solarcentury has offices in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Kenya and South Africa as well as a growing presence in Latin America.

Contact information
Susannah Wood 07984 871 558
Marc Charlton 07585124215

About First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect (FCC) operates trains from London to Bedford, Brighton, Wimbledon and Sutton on the Thameslink route and Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn on the Great Northern route.

Approximately 180,000 people travel with FCC every weekday – 95,000 on the Thameslink route and 85,000 on the Great Northern route.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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