Italian Trains Get Solar Boost
The first solar-power-assisted trains in Europe are from Italy. "The PVTRAIN project, partly funded by the EU, has been under development since 2003, and involves 10 prototype units: 5 carriages, 3 cargo wagons and 2 locomotives." The solar panels on the roof do no help power the wheels, but they provide energy for air-conditioning, lighting and safety systems, which helps make the trains more efficient by freeing the engine from having to create power for that electrical load. "The panels on a rail car can deliver approximately 1.36 kW of peak power. In the development and testing from July 2003 to May 2005, the solar panel system generated a total of 1,017.41 kWh." If the experiment is successful, solar-assisted trains could be produced on an industrial scale.