Italian startup testing PV sleepers on railway line


From pv magazine Italy

Italy-based Greenrail Group has been testing PV on railway sleepers along a railway line between the towns of Modena and Sassuolo, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, since 2018.

“We designed the photovoltaic sleepers following the UNI 10349 standard,” CEO Emanuele Occhipinti told pv magazine. “These prototypes are part of an experimental section that has demonstrated positive results in terms of effectiveness.”

Occhipinti said that the sleepers are easy to assemble and clean.

“Cleaning 1 km of solar railways takes only a few minutes, using a trolley with brushes and water jet mounted underneath, allowing the cleaning of large surfaces in a short time and saving resources and time compared to cleaning a standard PV plant,” he explained.

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Greenrail conducted a series of periodic tests for six months, evaluating energy efficiency, resistance to weather conditions, and the impact on railway operations. The preliminary results, according to the company, are encouraging, confirming the solidity and effectiveness of the solar sleeper solution.

“To date, the preliminary feedback received is very positive and encouraging both regarding the energy efficiency of the photovoltaic elements and their ability to withstand railway operating conditions,” said Occhipinti.

The company claims that 1 km of solar sleepers will be enough to generate 44 MWh per year. The energy can be sold to the grid or used to power railway stations in remote areas, level crossings and traffic lights.

“By integrating photovoltaic modules into Greenrail railway sleepers, we transform railways into high-productivity power plants of sustainable energy,” Occhipinti said. “Furthermore, by using recycled materials such as rubber and plastic to produce sleepers, we demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

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