architecture energy technology transport

Work begins on the world’s largest solar bridge

On my way into London I cross Blackfriars Bridge, which is undergoing something of a transformation at the moment. It’s a Victorian rail bridge adjacent to Blackfriars station, and it dates back to the age of steam. When work on it is finished, it will have been brought decisively into the 21st century and will be notable for two things. It’ll be the first station to span the Thames, and it will be the world’s largest solar bridge. On the roof of the station will be London’s biggest solar installation.

The first of 4,400 PV panels are being fitted this week, in an array that will cover 6,000 square metres when complete. That’s the artist’s impression above, courtesy of SolarCentury, who are fitting the panels. (Note to designer: the Thames is more brown than that. Unless it shows the Thames in 2025, in which case can you make it more blue, and add a leaping dolphin?)

Blackfriars is a key commuter station. It is currently being substantially rebuilt to extend the platforms. Along with the solar array, the station is also being equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and solar pipes to maximise the use of natural sunlight.

I think it’s great to see an environmentally progressive project on this kind of scale in such an important location, and I hope it sends a signal to the rest of the City. I also like the symmetry of installing solar panels on a Victorian bridge – a kind of clean energy update of the industrial revolution.


    1. I don’t suppose you’d get a single train out of it. It won’t even provide all of the station’s needs, which rather shows the limits of solar.

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