The solar express: Byron Bay home to first solar-powered train

solar train

The laid-back New South Wales coastal town of Byron Bay is now home to the world’s first solar-powered train.

A passionate group of train enthusiasts, the not-for-profit Byron Bay Railroad Company, and Lismore-based solar installation company Nickel Energy have replaced the heritage train’s diesel engine with electric traction motors powered by solar.

Curved solar panels were fitted to the roof of both carriages, generating up to 6.5kW of power to charge the train’s lithium-ion battery. A 30kW array on the storage shed roof provides additional back up.

solar-powered train
The solar train next to the storage shed

All of the equipment on the train is powered from the batteries including traction power, lighting, air compressors and control circuits. Further, all lighting has been replaced with LEDs.

The surplus energy generated from the train shed roof panels is exported to the electricity grid. On overcast days or for night services, the train’s batteries can be charged from the grid using only renewable energy from the local supplier.

The train is a 1949-era heritage train runs on a three-kilometre coastal track that links the Byron Town Centre with the North Beach precinct and Byron Arts Estate.

solar-powered train

The journey takes 10 minutes one way or 25 return.

The Byron Bay Railroad Company says, “We are truly proud to deliver the world’s first solar train. And we are forever grateful to all those who have shared their wisdom and shown their support to help make this happen.”

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