Melbourne’s tram network switches to solar power

Melbourne’s tram network is now running entirely on solar power thanks to offset certificates purchased from the newly opened Numurkah Solar Farm.

The 128 MW Numurkah Solar Farm in the Australian State of Victoria opened last month. Covering 515 hectares with around 374,000 solar panels, it is not only the largest solar farm in that state, but it is also now ready to help power the world’s biggest tram network: the city of Melbourne, said the Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

Under the Labor government’s Solar Trams Initiative, the facility is one of two solar farms supplying 100 per cent renewable energy to offset Melbourne’s entire tram network. In total, it will generate some 255,000 megawatt hours of clean, renewable electricity into the national power grid each year. Together with clean energy from the Bannerton Solar Farm, this is enough to fully power Melbourne’s tram network, which consists of over 475 trams on 24 lines, covering 250 kilometres of double track.

The emissions reduction delivered by the Numurkah Solar Farm will be equivalent to taking 75,000 cars off the road or planting 390,000 trees. It is also expected to create hundreds of new jobs in the region, particularly in the construction sector. In addition, the solar farm will play an important role in helping the state achieve its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, said the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

Environmentalists are enthusiastic about the solar-powered trams. “We consider it a win-win as it combines public transport and renewable energy, both solutions to climate change,” Patrick Simmons, Yes 2 Renewables Community Coordinator at Friends of the Earth, Melbourne, told Cities Today, adding that: “If they can do it with trams, they can do it with trains, too.”

Image credit: Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr

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