Riding Sunbeams, the solar rail company, has secured an undisclosed amount of commercial funding to take forward renewable energy projects to help decarbonise the UK rail system.
The commercial funding comes from Thrive Renewables and Friends Provident Foundation in exchange for a minority shareholding in the business and an active role in governance.
Riding Sunbeams will use the investment to develop a pipeline of new renewable energy projects in South East England and the Valleys in South Wales.
The new working capital will enable Riding Sunbeams to provide a commercial route to market for community energy groups looking for new projects to develop and connect them to regional rail network operators like Network Rail who will pay them for their power.
Riding Sunbeams hopes to demonstrate a new, fairer, greener way to do business and embody how a just transition is possible by bringing together charities, communities, corporates and Government to decarbonise and power the rail network.
The team proved the technical concept of powering railways directly by solar power with its First Light demonstrator project in Aldershot last year.
Riding Sunbeams is currently leading another First of a Kind project funded by Innovate UK and the Department for Transport, which aims to power electrified rail networks which run on alternating current (AC) power from overhead lines.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “It is fantastic to see pioneering projects that we have supported through our First of a Kind competition progressing their plans to decarbonise our railways.
“Harnessing innovation like this will be crucial to modernising the railway and making journeys greener and cleaner, and I welcome this vision becoming one step closer to reality.”
Ivan Stone, CEO of Riding Sunbeams, said the commercial investment will accelerate the company’s technical development and establish the appropriate commercial framework with rail system operators.