TfL trials new tech that collects waste energy from Tube train brakes

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Transport for London has announced more green initiatives under which it recently trailed a new technology that allows for collection of waste energy from Tube train brakes enough to power a large Underground station.

According to the transportation authority, this new technology will enable it to not only reduce its carbon footprint, but will also pave way for significant savings across the network.

For the five-week trial, London Underground (LU) used the new ‘inverter’ system at the Cloudesley Road substation on the Victoria line. The trails were a great success as in just one week of operation, the new technology collected enough power to run a station as large as Holborn for more than two days per week.

The trial of the new technology has opened new doors for LU enabling it to access energy from previously inaccessible resource. According to estimates, the LU will end up saving a whopping £6 million in energy bills a year because of this new technology.

While reducing cost, and saving energy, the technology has the added benefit of lessening the amount of heat generated by trains braking in tunnels, which in turn would reduce the energy required to operate LU’s cooling systems.

The results indicated that 1 Megawatt hour (MWh) of energy can be captured per day – enough to power 104 homes per year.

Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, pegs the results as exciting and having a huge potential of harnessing some of the immense energy in Tube trains.

Chris Tong, LU’s Head of Power and Cooling, said: “This state-of-the-art regenerative braking system has the potential to transform how we power stations across the TfL network, unlocking massive power savings and significantly reducing our energy bills.”

The trial follows a number of other measures put in place by the Mayor and Transport for London to ‘green’ the Capital’s Tube system. In January, it was announced the historic Greenwich Power Station would be revamped to transform it into a low-carbon power generator for the Tube network. Its six new gas engines will replace existing boilers and provide cheaper, cleaner power for the Tube, with waste heat being channelled into a new local heat network that will also benefit residents.

LU is carrying out its largest programme of modernisation in decades, with major stations, trains, track and control systems being updated or replaced to meet the needs of the rapidly growing city and provide a 30 per cent increase in capacity across the Tube network.