Riding Sunbeams, the solar rail company, has been awarded a £2.5 million grant to build and connect a solar powered energy plant that will directly power rail in East Sussex.
The grant is part of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) £85m share of the Government’s new Getting Building Fund.
The 3.75 Megawatt Cuckmere Community Solar Farm located in Berwick, north of the Eastbourne, will power the London mainline railway thanks to a ‘private-wire’ direct connection.
The solar farm is expected to be supplying power to the local railway network by March 2022.
After completion, Cuckmere Community Solar will launch an investment offer so that the project can be owned by local community members and rail commuters who use the network.
Ollie Pendered, Executive Director, Riding Sunbeams, said: “Our vision is to power trains with commercially priced and unsubsidised renewable energy with a positive social impact.
“This award from the Getting Building Fund is a huge win for Riding Sunbeams, Cuckmere Community Solar and Network Rail.
“It will enable us to work together to prove that MW-scale solar can be directly connected to the railways and open up the market for region-wide solar connections.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to show the UK rail sector that commercial innovation can help power us all to the Zero Carbon future we need.”
Network Rail is the single biggest user of electricity in the UK.
Riding Sunbeams is also working with other UK customers including Transport for Wales and Transport for London to deliver a similar model.
It said: “The commercial success of the East Sussex project will provide a model through Network Rail that can be replicated throughout the country.”