Solar Powered Trams For Melbourne?

Something to think about, solar powered trams!

Renewable energy group bids to turn Melbourne’s trams solar

May 18, 2015

Environment editor, The Age

Digital impression of a Melbourne tram as part of a pitch before the state government to power the network with solar energy.

Melbourne’s entire tram network could be powered by solarAi??if the state government gaveAi??a bold renewable energy proposal the green light.

While the pitchAi??may conjure upAi??images of trams with rooftop panels on them like the family home, the power would instead beAi??generatedAi??atAi??two new solar farmsAi??the project proponentsAi??planAi??to build nearAi??Swan Hill andAi??Mildura.

The company behind the bid, the Australian Solar Group,Ai??haveAi??heldAi??quiet talks overAi??four years with different armsAi??of the government to try get theAi??project off the ground,Ai??butAi??has so far not gotAi??finalAi??backing.

The two solar farmsAi??wouldAi??generateAi??80 gigawatt-hours of electricityAi??a year, aboutAi??theAi??sameAi??amount used byAi??Melbourne’s tram network, which isAi??the world’s largest.

Under the proposal the government would back the projectAi??by signingAi??Public Transport Victoria (PTV) up to aAi??power purchaseAi??agreement withAi??the solarAi??farms, creatingAi??aAi??reliable revenue sourceAi??alongside theAi??renewable energy target.

The proponents sayAi??the project has been designed to ensure the cost ofAi??tram tickets would not rise, nor would it add to PTV’s power bill.Ai??It would cutAi??100,000Ai??tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from running tramsAi??and give the city an obvious global selling pointAi??(see the mock-up tram design above), according to the pitch.


The Australia Solar Group was founded by businessmenAi??Adrian Critchlowai??i??Ai??and Dave Holland.Ai??MrAi??CrtichlowAi??previously helpedAi??startAi??companiesAi??Booking.comAi??andAi??AlertMe,ai??i??beforeAi??successfulAi??sales of both. Mr Holland was formerly theAi??head ofAi??Solar Systems, a company that was buildingAi??a large solar project in MilduraAi??before financialAi??collapseAi??in 2009.

Mr Holland said Australia SolarAi??had triedAi??to getAi??almost all elements of the tram project ready to goAi??before it sought finalAi??financial backing.

“This project is virtually ready to go. We can’t see any barriers that would stop it from here,” he said.

The tram project has been supported behind the scenes by members of the Melbourne City Council, includingAi??Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.Ai??Councillor Arron Wood saidAi??it ticked many boxes,Ai??from contributing significantly towards the city’s renewable energy targetAi??to creating employment and training opportunities in rural Victoria.

“Ultimately, whether this project proceeds rests firmly with the Victorian Government.Ai??I just hope they take the action necessary to get itAi??done,” Cr Wood said.

A spokeswoman for the Andrews government said: “We are interested in how the project progresses and will continue discussions with the group.”


Australian Solar says the solar farms would span across 80 hectares and useAi??130,000 panelsAi??to trackAi??the sun throughout the day.Ai??It hasAi??planning andAi??grid connection approvals for itsAi??Swan Hill site, withAi??permitAi??processesAi??underwayAi??for the second site at Red Cliffs.


One Response to “Solar Powered Trams For Melbourne?”
  1. eric chris says:

    Vancouver calls itself Green with empty express 99 B-Line diesel buses running to UBC over the summer while UBC is basically closed. Well, the 99 B-Line diesel buses do run under trolleybus lines intended for electric trolleybuses. Maybe nobody told “Greeny” Gregor that empty diesel buses running under trolleybus lines don’t reduce carbon emissions. They are also redundant transit service costing about $10 million/yr during off peak hours – small potatoes for TransLink having money to burn.

    It is great to see Melbourne just getting down to business to actually consider being more Green with solar power for its trams. By the way, s-trains use three times the electrical power of trams, partly due to their greater power draw to travel faster.

    But, if nobody is on the s-trains at night, what difference does it make how fast the s-trains are? They are just wasting power and costing taxpayers more money. TransLink can always just come up with some more lies about being Green to tax us more to run power pig s-trains – TransLink has an entire “communications” department headed by Bob Paddon to educate us on the merits of soot blowing diesel buses emitting high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead – all good stuff to make us healthier. The environmental groups and SFU economics professors funded by TransLink will support it and campaign hard for “Green” taxes to put more Green carbon emitting diesel buses on the roads.

    No worries! It makes you want to…