Thanks to this agreement, enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes will be used in offices, depots, and train stations across the country. There will be available 49.9 MW of renewable energy capacity, which will cover approximately 15% of Network Rail's annual non-traction energy consumption.
“This first of its kind agreement is a huge moment not just for Network Rail but the rail industry as a whole, setting in motion a journey which will see Britain’s favourite transport become even greener, cleaner and more sustainable,” said Rail Minister Wendy Morton.
The energy will be sourced from EDF Renewables UK's Bloy's Grove solar farm in Norfolk. The solar farm received a building permit in June this year. EDF Renewables UK will build, own and operate the solar farm for the lifetime of the project. It has also committed to working closely with the local community and the council to plan the next steps for the construction and operation of the solar farm. The company will offer a community fund of £20,000 per year once the farm is operational.
“We are very pleased to be working with Network Rail to help them on their journey to decarbonisation. This project shows the ability of EDF Renewables UK to provide diverse solutions for customers in terms of low-cost renewable electricity,” commented Matthieu Hue, CEO of EDF Renewables UK.
The solar deal is in line with Network Rail's commitment to source 100% of its non-traction energy from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
“Rail is already in a strong position in terms of its green credentials, but it’s crucial that we do everything we can as a business to improve air quality, minimize our use of fossil fuels, and transition to an industry powered by green, renewable, low-carbon energy,” said Jo Lewington, Network Rail’s chief environment and sustainability officer and added: “Our vision is to serve the nation with the cleanest, greenest form of public transport and this agreement marks another important step towards achieving our aims.”
Network Rail's long-standing Environmental Sustainability Strategy is based on four key pillars: 1) providing a low-emission railway, 2) a reliable railway service that is resilient to climate change, 3) improving plant and wildlife biodiversity, and 4) minimizing waste and sustainable use of materials.