Europe’s first solar powered train tunnel goes live on Belgian high-speed line


The train ride from Paris to Amsterdam may not be the most scenic of European railway routes, but it’s the only one capable of harnessing the awesome power of the Sun — for two miles, at least. Yesterday, engineers in Belgium officially switched on Europe’s first solar-powered train tunnel, spanning a 2.1-mile stretch of the rail line connecting the City of Lights to Mokum. The installation’s 16,000 solar panels will be used to provide 50 percent of the energy needed to power nearby Antwerp Central Station and to provide extra juice for both high-speed and traditional trains. Originally developed to help protect travelers from falling trees in an ancient forest, the project is expected to produce up to 3.3MWh 3,300 megawatts hours per year, while decreasing annual CO2 emissions by about 2,400 tons. Speed past the break for some aerial footage of the artery, along with a brief PR from Enfinity — the Belgian renewable energy company that helped bring it to life.

Update: According to the AFP, the tunnel will produce 3,300 megawatts hours per year.