AUSTRALIA: V/Line has installed its first solar powered level crossing, at Huntly on the Bendigo – Echuca line in northern Victoria. The site is 1·2 km from the nearest power source, and digging trenches for underground power cables would be expensive and risk disturbing local flora.
The 18 solar panels were supplied by Alpha Power Systems, along with a battery bank. The overall cost was just under A$100 000, including the signal hut, solar generator and battery, a saving of A$25 000 on traditional systems.
Further installations are planned if the solar crossing proves cheaper to run than traditional systems. 'It could be the perfect solution for providing energy to locations where power supplies are far away and extremely costly to extend,' according to V/Line CEO Theo Taifalos. 'The technology has come a long way and these 18 solar panels can generate up to 4·5 kW. That's an average power output of between 8 and 10 kWh/day.’