Solar panels to melt snow between the tracks
This arrangement combines innovation, sustainability, reliability and reduced nuisance. At Strukton we are always looking for such solutions.
Anyone who took a train going past Den Dolder last winter was given a good look at one of Bredenoord’s Mini-SunBoxes. Strukton Systems placed the installation by the tracks to temporarily power the new rail switch heating. The system endured heavy snowfall, a raging storm and its fair share of frost, all this without a problem.
Renewed rail switch heating
Commissioned by ProRail, Strukton Systems handles the replacement of rail switch heating, which reaches the end of its lifespan after fifteen to twenty years. Strukton Systems specializes in systems in and surrounding tracks, such as switch heating, monitoring systems, movable bridges and train station escalators. This organization works for multiple railway managers. “The old switch heating was running on gas. We are replacing this with an enhanced, robust technique featuring an electric connection,” project manager André Geuze of Strukton Systems explains. “These activities naturally take place during the winter. Unfortunately the net operator couldn’t provide net connectivity at each location in time. We needed a quick plan B: gensets next to the tracks.”
One stop shop
Geuze asked Bredenoord for a complete solution consisting of efficient and quiet gensets with a camera to secure the equipment. “I wanted one point of contact, and this worked out just fine. Because we asked for camera surveillance we almost automatically chose for the hybrid ESavers. The cameras need only a small amount of power, but in order to provide that a genset would be running full time. Meanwhile the switch heating would only be in use during certain weather conditions. The installations were often placed in populated areas, particularly in Den Dolder, so a continuously running genset was not an option due to noise pollution and emission gases. The ESaver can take the power for the cameras from batteries, quietly and efficiently.”
Solar panels as an innovation
ESavers were placed on five locations in the region. In Den Dolder the additional decision was made to partially charge the batteries with solar panels. Geuze: “Both Strukton and ProRail are always looking for innovative and sustainable solutions. At Strukton we have the drive to improve towards a more sustainable climate. We limit our own footprint by taking measures in mobility, using clean vehicles and sustainable innovations. We would like to offer our clients sustainable installations. In this case we chose for solar panels in Den Dolder because the net connection would take the longest to be set up there. The great thing about this project is that we had five similar installations. Because of this we can clearly show the fuel saved by using the Mini-SunBox. This is definitely an option we will reconsider for future projects.