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New solar power agreement for a greener railway

We have signed a solar power agreement with EDF Renewables UK to make the railway cleaner and greener

We want to make the railway cleaner and greener for you and the environment. That’s why we have made another stride towards our goal of a more sustainable railway for Britain by teaming up with EDF Renewables UK. Our new agreement with EDF will ensure enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes used in our offices, depots and railway stations across the country.

What does this mean?

Our new agreement means that 49.9 megawatts (MV) of clean renewable energy will be available to us and will cover around 15% of our yearly use of non-traction energy.

  • Non-traction energy is used in our railway stations, maintenance depots and buildings.

The energy will be provided from EDF Renewables UK’s Bloy’s Grove new solar farm between Swainsthorpe and Mulbarton in Norfolk. This builds upon our existing traction energy supply partnership between the wider EDF Group in Britain.

  • Traction energy is the energy used to propel our vehicles and fleet.
New solar agreement poster with engineer inspecting solar panel.

Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy:

Bird's eye view of a train track running through a countryside environment with trees, fields and houses either side.

With more of our energy coming from renewables, we are on our way to achieving our 30-year Environmental Sustainability Strategy. Our strategy sets out the actions and timelines required to deliver the company’s four key priorities:

  • providing a low-emission railway
  • a reliable railway service that is resilient to climate change
  • improved biodiversity of plants and wildlife and minimal waste
  • a sustainable use of materials.

Our agreement with EDF will help us reach our commitment to sourcing 100% of non-traction energy from renewable sources by 2030.

What’s next?

EDF Renewables UK will now work closely with the local community and the council to plan the next steps towards construction and operation of the solar farm, which received planning consent this year. The company will build, own and operate the solar farm for the lifetime of the project. EDF is also offering a £20,000 per year community benefit fund which starts when the site is operational.

Crucially, there will be significant biodiversity improvements on site, including a community orchard and a team to work with the local community on these improvements.

A rail worker cleans solar panels beside the railway, daytime

A word from the experts:

Jo Lewington, our chief environment and sustainability officer, said: “Rail is already in a strong position in terms of its green credentials, but it’s crucial that we do everything we can as a business to improve air quality, minimise our use of fossil fuels, and transition to an industry powered by green, renewable, low-carbon energy.

“Our vision is to serve the nation with the cleanest, greenest form of public transport and this agreement marks another important step towards achieving our aims.”

Matthieu Hue, chief executive of EDF Renewables UK, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Network Rail to help them on their journey to decarbonisation. This project shows the ability of EDF Renewables UK to provide diverse solutions for customers in terms of low-cost renewable electricity.

“This also demonstrates our ability to develop competitive and affordable renewable power projects in the UK as well as underpinning the importance of all renewable technologies in de-carbonising the UK electricity system to reach the country’s net zero targets by 2050.”

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