Network Rail and Riding Sunbeams are regrettably unable to continue with the Selmeston Solar Rail Connection project to power electric trains from a community solar farm near Berwick, Sussex.
Unfortunately, site-specific technical issues which came to light as the project progressed proved impossible to overcome, and were exacerbated by Covid, so it was decided it was better for all parties to step away.
During three years of hard work, Network Rail Southern Region and Riding Sunbeams have learned a huge amount from the process. Both organisations will continue to pursue projects to prove the concept of solar energy powering trains and its role in achieving the UK’s Net Zero commitments.
Ollie Pendered, Executive Director, Riding Sunbeams, said: “We know this will be very disappointing for everyone who has worked so hard to try to get this ambitious project built, especially for Cuckmere Community Solar, the local group at the heart of the project. Riding Sunbeams will continue to help Cuckmere find a route to market for its solar farm.
“Bringing this kind of technical and commercial innovation to market is never easy, but Riding Sunbeams will continue to work to achieve our goal of powering railways with sunlight while sharing the benefits with track-side communities.”
Network Rail Southern Region head of sustainability Sarah Borien said: “We’re committed to finding a suitable location to provide power to trains from renewable energy sources and while it’s disappointing that we weren’t able to make this particular project work, it has provided us with some important lessons to develop our renewable energy plans. Electric trains are already one of the most environmentally-friendly modes of transport and the potential for them to be powered by renewables is really exciting and a key part of our sustainability strategy.”