High-speed trains between Leuven and Liège to run on solar power
Railway network operator Infrabel unveiled its plans to install a solar panel park in Hannuit, in Liège province, on Wednesday. More than 3,800 solar panels will provide energy for trains on the high-speed line between Leuven and Liège. The project will cost around 2 million euros, 90 per cent of which will be covered by government subsidies.
The panels will be installed near the traction substation in Avernas, which supplies the railway line with electricity. The solar farm is expected to be operational within a year and will produce around 2,700 MWh per year, equivalent to the annual consumption of 650 households, according to Infrabel.
The electricity produced will be used to power 120 high-speed trains between Belgium and Germany and more than 350 domestic trains that use the tracks every week. When the sun is not shining, the power can be switched to energy from nearby wind turbines or the high-voltage grid.
It is the second high-speed line in Belgium to be powered by solar panels: the line between Antwerp and the Dutch border has been connected to a solar farm in Schoten and Brasschaat since 2022.
Eurostar investigates solar energy
Infrabel has also signed a letter of intent with Eurostar, the high-speed international train operator, to study the possibility of installing solar panels on the edges of high-speed lines. The electricity produced would be fed directly into the overhead line without passing through a traction substation.
"If the various projects are effectively implemented," the announcement said, "Eurostar could eventually cover 15 per cent of its electricity needs in Belgium with solar energy."
© PHOTO CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP