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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

London Plans on World's Biggest Solar Bridge

City officials have long been working to 'green' London, and the effort is gathering speed in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games which the city is hosting. London's Olympic committee is trying to make 2012 the year for the greenest games ever held.

Aside from the Olympics, London's citywide green initiatives run the gamut from urban beekeeping to green roofs, greener transportation and many other initiatives. Currently the city plans to top all its past achievements with the biggest solar bridge in the world.

The Blackfriars railway bridge that spans the Thames near St. Paul's Cathedral will host the largest solar array in London and the largest "solar bridge" in the world. The bridge, which was built in 1886, is the foundation for the new Blackfriars station which is currently being upgraded to cater to more passengers. The proposed panels will provide nearly 50% of the energy needed to power Blackfriars station and the bridge will sport about 4,400 PV panels and will produce an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity every year.

Solarcentury is the UK-based company behind the project. They design, manufacture and install solar panels within the country. In addition to generating electricity, the solar project will also reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year. The station will also feature other energy saving measures as well as rainwater harvesting systems and sun pipes to enhance natural lighting.

Derry Newman, chief executive of project developers commented that:

"It's fantastic to see this project finally come to fruition. Blackfriars Bridge is an ideal location for solar; a new, iconic large roof space, right in the heart of London. Station buildings and bridges are fixed parts of our urban landscape and it is great to see that this one will be generating renewable energy every day into the future. Unknown to most, there are many hundreds of buildings now powered by solar in the capital as investment in this technology increases. For people to see that solar power is working is a vital step towards a clean energy future."

The only other place that has a solar bridge is probably the Kurilpa Footbridge in Brisbane, Australia which was constructed in 2009. Earlier this year, about 16,000 solar panels were laid on top of a train tunnel in Belgium for trains travelling from Paris to Antwerp.

The Blackfriars Station is part of London's effort to improve its infrastructure. Once the station is completed, it can accommodate up to 24 trains per hour in the central London section of the route which means more seats for commuters.

Image Credit: Solarcentury

Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshotAkhila Vijayaraghavan

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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