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Published on May 22nd, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


Solar-Powered Tram Network Proposed In Melbourne (World’s Largest)

May 22nd, 2015 by  

Jumping off the tram or bus to roam city streets, drink in the architecture, or just arrive at work in an urban area would be so much better if air quality were fresh and fine. Melbourne, Australia, considers this very thing and intends to leave behind those suffocating, smelly fossil fuels… at least, to a degree. With a blueprint for an entirely solar-powered tram network in Melbourne (which would be the world’s largest), the capital city of Victoria could soon become a world leader while seeking pure air.

Australians in Melbourne have been negotiating with the various state (Victorian) government bodies for the past four years. They project how much better the tram would be as a viable alternative transportation mode if the tram’s energy source were solar, resulting in zero emissions. A solar tram or bus will keep the urban air cleaner, quieter, and more breathable through cutting atmospheric and noise pollution in large cities.

Digital impression of a Melbourne tram as part of a pitch before the state government to power the network with

Digital visualization by Australia Solar Group.

The Age Victoria explains that the Australian Solar Group (ASG) is the company supporting this proposal. ASG is intent on establishing this project, and its progress appears one step closer towards gaining approval from the Victorian Government. The Age Victoria comments that Melbourne’s plans to power its entire tram network by solar waits on the state government, which needs to give this ambitious renewable energy proposal the green light.

Expecting to see rooftop panels on the top of trams? You won’t. In fact, two new solar farms will generate the power if the project proponents do what they intend to do (build near Swan Hill and Mildura). The two solar farms would generate about 80 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, about the same amount used by Melbourne’s tram network.

Yes. This. It is an important undertaking to phase out conventional fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Melbourne claims to have the world’s largest tram network — averaging over 3.5 million trips per week across a 250-kilometre double-track network. Solarizing that would be a wonderful step forward.

Stoking the renewable push, The Age Victorian reports this proposal would neither increase fares for commuters nor cause rises in electricity bills for PTV. Additionally, such a project will create many jobs in the green technology industry. Avoiding 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year (reported by The Age Victoria), the transition to solar sets a standard for other cities to meet.


“This project is virtually ready to go. We can’t see any barriers that would stop it from here,” Dave Holland, a founder of Australian Solar, said.

“Australia Solar had tried to get almost all elements of the tram project ready to go before it sought final financial backing,” he noted.

Projects like this go for the real thing. Why hesitate with a pilot project? CleanTechnica discusses this some recent electric transit news. “[Amsterdam’s] transport alderman Abdeluheb Choho in an interview with the Volkskrant suggests the same, ‘This project means we are saying goodbye to symbolic behavior and pilot projects. We have decided to just do it, not to experiment with five buses.’ “

Melbourne’s intended solar standard for mass transit comes amidst Amsterdam’s target of electrifying all diesel-powered buses by 2025 as well as projections for the arrival of Elon Musk’s conceived intercity Hyperloop project (but note that he’s not putting this one into practice).

Related Stories:

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Envision Solar CEO Talks Transportation Electrification & Solar

Photo: Australian Solar Group via The Age Victoria 

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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