Trams provide a viable alternative to buses and other transportation modes when addressing direct atmospheric and noise pollution in major cities.
Many people disregard a network/vehicle’s primary energy source. In several cases, this is one chiefly powered by fossil fuels. However, an ambitious blueprint for an entirely solar-powered tram network has been revealed for Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia. The Australian Solar Group (ASG), the company behind this proposal, has been in negotiation with various state (Victorian) government bodies for the past four years about establishing this project. Progress appears to have been made and is one step closer towards gaining approval form the Victorian Government.
As part of achieving this target, Public Transport Victoria (PTV), the statutory authority responsible for the city’s public transport, has sought solar farm sites within the state that are required to generate the estimated 80 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year for the tram network. In total, this accounts for roughly 10% of the city’s freight and commuter transport.
For the city which claims to have the world’s largest tram network (averaging over 3.5 million trips per week across a 250-kilometre double-track network), it is a major statement. Success in this scheme will hopefully continue the trend of phasing out conventional fuels such as coal, oil and gas. As part of achieving triple bottom line, it is anticipated this proposal would neither increase fares for commuters nor cause rises in electricity bills for PTV. Furthermore, such a project would create many jobs in the green technology industry and avoid 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The potential success of this scheme will add onto Amsterdam’s target of electrifying all diesel-powered buses by 2025. These projects, in conjunction with Elon Musk’s earnest inter-city Hyperloop project, could rapidly propel the role of solar in supplying reliable, clean and affordable energy for mass-scale public transportation networks.
Image source: The Age (Fairfax Media)