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Will the Future of Rail Run on Wind Energy?

David Thorpe's picture

Writer for Energy Post, The Fifth Estate, author of Earthscan Expert Guides to Solar Technology, Sustainable Home Refurbishment, Energy Management for Buildings and Industry, The One Planet...

  • Member since 2018
  • 187 items added with 140,610 views
  • Jul 4, 2013
X-Wind's 6kW vertical axis wind turbine, the model for the one which could be seen alongside rail tracks throughout the country.
X-Wind’s 6kW vertical axis wind turbine, the model for the one which could be seen alongside rail tracks throughout the country.

Britain’s electrified railways could be up to 70% powered by wind turbines placed alongside the tracks, if a trial getting underway is successful.

A new project, part-funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, aims at reducing the carbon footprint of electrified railways using a specially designed wind turbine developed by British manufacturer X-Wind Power.

The product is billed as the world’s most advanced vertical axis wind turbine. Called the XW-80, it has been designed for extreme reliability and exceptional performance on sites with restricted access and limited space.

The XW-80 can be installed at a density of 1MW per kilometre on long linear sites such as sea defences, road and rail corridors, or in small numbers to suit communities or businesses.

The technology, with its exceptional efficiency, low cost of energy, and near-silent operation, has been described as “potentially game changing” by major wind player Dong Energy.

Vertical axis wind turbines are not bothered by turbulent changes in direction of the wind, or blustery weather. They are therefore more suited to urban situations. Most wind turbines using windfarms have a horizontal axis.

In May, DECC awarded a total of £16 million in the first phase of its £35 million Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF), part of which went to X-Wind Power. The programme has been set up to develop low carbon technologies for buildings and power generation and energy storage.

X-Wind’s EFP project will now take advantage of Network Rail’s unique land ownership to validate its vertical axis wind turbine technology in terms of performance, economics and safety, specifically when operating in narrow corridors and in proximity to trains.

The two-year trial consists of the design and development of an 80kW wind turbine based on X-Wind recently validated 6kW small scale generator (pictured above).

It will lead to several regional tests along Network Rail’s tracks before moving to a comprehensive rollout and the potential generation of 2,200 GWh of carbon-free electricity annually.

Michael Blaize, CEO at X-Wind Power, said: “We have made exceptional progress over the last two years, from an innovative concept to a demonstration project with the UK’s largest energy user.

“The support we have received from funding bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board and The Department of Energy and Climate Change is a clear endorsement of our technology and business strategies.”

The company believes that a distributed energy system coupled with storage technology is the only long-term energy solution for the future and that its technology could play a leading role in the supply of energy solutions globally.

Its market research has highlighted strong growth potential for the medium scale wind market. X-Wind intends to combine innovative design with robust manufacturing processes from automotive and large-scale wind industries to offer efficient and reliable products.

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