London's largest solar roof is now under construction -- and it's set on a bridge! The massive 6,000 square meter array photovoltaic array is currently being installed by Solarcentury on the Victorian-era Blackfriars Bridge in London. The project is on track to become the world's largest solar bridge - when completed, Blackfriar's roof will hold 4,400 individual photovoltaic panels and produce around 900,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year.
Over 100 bridges, 20 tunnels, and six public ferries cross the River Thames, but only Blackfriars will shine in photovoltaic glory. Solarcentury is working in conjunction with other public transportation and facility upgrades to reduce pollution and congestion, improve the passenger environment, and act as a catalyst for regenerating some of London’s more deprived areas. Lengthening the station’s deck will require 14,000 tons of new materials. In an effort to keep environmental impact to a minimum, hefty loads will be transported by barge instead of via London’s crowded roads.
Originally built in 1884, Blackfriars station is overdue for the retrofit, which will bring this steam-era railway into the 21st century and give travelers direct access to key local attractions including the Globe Theater and the Tate Modern. The station’s redevelopment is part of Network Rail’s £5.5 billion Thameslink program, which aims to improve the interchange between the national rail and the London Underground. Once the upgrade is complete, as many as 24 trains will be able to run the tracks every hour, nearly doubling the station’s capacity. Upping the amount of north-south traffic along the Thames will be a good thing when the 2012 Olympics come to town.
“Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape,” said Derry Newman, Chief Executive of Solarcentury in a statement, “it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future.”