SOLAR TRACTION – a world first

 In March 2019 we completed our feasibility study looking at the potential of solar energy to power our south-east railway network. While solar PV is an increasingly important part of the energy system, there are no examples of solar systems directly supplying railways anywhere in the world.

The Riding Sunbeams project is led by 10:10, Community Energy South (CES) and other partners. In 2018 five local community energy groups including HKD Energy received funding through the government’s Rural Community Energy Fund for local feasibility studies. We commissioned Ricardo Energy and Environment to undertake the Hassocks study and CES led the commercial work.

Now that there are no government subsidies for solar energy projects need to find new ways to be financially viable and offer an attractive investment. Selling electricity direct to a large energy consumer, with a secure agreement to buy renewable electricity over the lifespan of the solar panels, is a crucial part of a successful project.

Read our report summary here

More information on the Riding Sunbeams project

Next steps: The Riding Sunbeams consortium (which includes 10:10, Community Energy South and others) has received a First of a Kind (FOAK) grant from the Department of Transport and Innovate UK to test technical solutions, and finalise the commercial delivery model and PPA. Meanwhile, HKD Energy will continue to explore site options identified in this study. We will share information via our website as it becomes available.

Downlands School

266 solar panels have now been installed on the roof of Downlands School to produce a peak output of approximately 80 kW and an estimated 80,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year, saving up to 1,500 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime.  We have agreed with West Sussex County Council (the owner of the building) to license the roof for 20 years, the duration of the project.

The benefits to the school are in significantly reduced electricity costs, as well as the educational benefits to students of learning about renewable energy, and the wider community benefits of increasing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The solar systems are monitored and optimised by Tigo Energy systems which allow the performance of every individual panel to be viewed via the internet.  To see how much electricity the panels are generating by day and over the lifetime of the project so far see: for the main school and:
or the sports centre

Downlands School Fair 2014

Other projects in the pipeline:
Heat from the Ground
We are also actively exploring other local buildings for future new solar projects.

Downlands roof