light rail, Passenger Rail, Sustainability

Sun shines on Yarra Trams network

Yarra Trams has flicked the switch on nearly 100 kilowatts of solar panels recently installed on the roof of its Southbank Depot, the first of seven tram facilities to have renewables installed on-site.

The 200-panel array was installed in recent weeks and will help power ongoing depot operations, as well as feed into the network when excess power is produced.

Installed with funding support from the Victorian Government’s Greener Government Buildings program, the seven depots will collectively produce more than 550 megawatt hours of power annually, that will help power depot operations and keep the network running. In total the new solar panels are expected to cut CO2 emissions by up to 350 tonnes and save approximately $370,000 on energy costs each year.

Yarra Trams is also installing skylights and energy efficient LED lighting in five depots across the network, a move that is expected to reduce emissions by a further 700 tonnes a year. The remaining solar panels and LED lights are expected to be installed in coming months.

Already the one of the most sustainable and efficient ways to get around Melbourne, these solar panels will make the tram network even more environmentally friendly by reducing the overall network’s draw on the power grid. The average single-occupancy Victorian car produces more than 240 grams of CO2 emissions per person per kilometre travelled, while trams produce approximately 20 grams, all while reducing traffic congestion on Melbourne’s road network.

This is not Yarra Trams’ and the Victorian Government’s first investment in renewable power for the tram network, with all of Melbourne’s trams powered by electricity fully offset by solar-generated power produced by two solar farms in the state’s north.

Yarra Trams chief executive officer Julien Dehornoy amid the solar panels.

Yarra Trams, owned by Keolis Downer, is the world’s largest tram network, with 1400 drivers operating about 500 trams across more than 250km of double track through Melbourne’s streets.

Yarra Trams is currently recruiting more than 150 new tram drivers over the course of 2022, and those interested in exploring a change of career, or re-joining the workforce are encouraged to visit Yarra Trams’ careers webpage.

Public Transport minister Ben Carroll said tram travel was already one of the most sustainable ways to travel.

“We’re continually looking for opportunities to make our transport networks more sustainable,” he said.

“These panels have been made possible through our Greener Government Buildings Program, slashing C02 emissions significantly and helping to power Melbourne’s tram system.”

Yarra Trams chief executive officer Julien Dehornoy said working with the Government to install hundreds of solar panels on the depots was a natural next step after the 2019 agreement to offset the power required by all our trams with solar generated power.

“We’re incredibly proud to have solar depots housing our solar trams,” he said.