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Gigantic New Solar Installation Gilds the High Speed Rail Lily

Enfinity will install 16,000 solar panels on a high speed rail tunnel in BelgiumIn a first-of-its-kind melding of solar technology with high speed rail facilities, the clean energy company Enfinity will install 16,000 solar panels on the two-mile long roof of a rail tunnel in Belgium. If the name Enfinity doesn’t ring a bell it soon will. The Belgium-based company has trained its sights on the U.S. energy market and is poised to step up commercial and utility scale solar installations here, from coast to coast. New green jobs, much?

Solar Panels on a Rail Tunnel

At first glance, a high speed rail tunnel roof doesn’t seem to be a logical place for a solar installation. That’s primarily due to the beating the panels could take from the vibrations caused by trains passing through. However, Enfinity is confident that the installation has been engineered to withstand the punishment. If that proves true, it could pave the way for more solar installations at similar facilities around the globe.

Having Your High Speed Rail Cake and Eating It, Too

Planting solar energy installations on high speed rail facilities is just the icing on the cake. High speed rail is an acknowledged green technology, and it keeps on getting greener. For example, China has just announced plans to buy 80 super high speed trains with energy savings of up to 50% more than conventional technology. It’s part of a planned $300 billion investment in high speed rail by 2020. Here at home, President Obama is pushing for more high speed rail investments, some of which are being funded by the Recovery Act.

A Bit More About Enfinity and Green Jobs

Enfinity dipped its toes in the U.S. solar market last year with a solar installation for a school district in California, which used only solar panels manufactured in the U.S. Now the company is plunging in headlong with a just-announced acquisition of the solar energy developer ClearPeak, which has a fat pipeline of projects and deep connections in the U.S. solar market. The idea is to leverage Enfinity’s access to financial backing in order to rev up the pace of solar installations in the U.S., potentially using more U.S.-made solar panels as well as employing more U.S. installers. It’s ironic that companies from overseas are coming here to create new green jobs and accellerate our clean energy economy when our own U.S. Chamber of Commerce is more interested in attacking clean energy candidates than helping to create new jobs, but whatever.

Image: Lily by bgilliard on

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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