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2023 brings us Solar Freakin' RAILways! from Swiss start-up Sun-Ways
A dumber idea than Solar Roadways?
If you find my videos useful you may consider supporting the EEVblog on Patreon:
00:00 - Solar Freakin' RAILways!
00:56 - Yes, Solar Freakin' Roadways are STILL going!
02:53 - EVERY solar roadways startup has failed, epicly.
05:12 - Let's watch the promo video!
09:05 - Showstoppers as far as the eye can see
10:14 - You NEVER go full Brusaw! (Melting snow!)
11:16 - Err, dust anyone?
14:23 - Let's look at the location. Is there are a better place to put solar panels?
16:49 - The South Korean's have a solution
17:32 - Stop it. Just stop it. But the grift is real.
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#SolarRoadways #Debunking #Railway

Hi Did you think that there could possibly be a contender to a dumber idea than solar roadways putting solar panels on the road and driving on them? Well I Think we have a solid Contender and thanks to all the people who have sent this into me over to Alaska It's been going for a couple of months now, but it just made the news rounds again. I Bring You Solar Freaking Roadways! Yes, solar panels could be installed in the spaces between railway tracks in World First! Swiss Startup makes first attempt to deploy solar on Railways Swiss Startup: Sunways introduces world's first solar panel carpet for railway tracks. The state up startup claims that this system can cover 50 of the world's wrong ways. Sorry.

I Just can't help myself I'm just sitting here thinking about it and I'm thinking anyone who sees this just knows like if putting solar panels on the roads was a stupid idea. I've been covering this for the last decade. Yes, Solar freaking Roadways are still going. The Grift has been going for more than 15 years.

I Think it's like 16 or 17 years now I think 2006 they started. They still got a Department of Transport contract. Anyway, let's not go into that. Yeah, Grift is real.

This is yet another Grift this startup called. uh, Sunways. they've milked 430 000 from the government to do this pilot. When they're going to put solar panels on railway tracks, you have to have like no lived experience at all to have never been near a railway track.

like especially when trains are going past. If you've ever been in underground Railway tunnels, stations and things like that like it is one of the most Dusty environments possible and one of the most high high vibration environments possible. What are two things Solar panels don't like? Dust? vibration. Oh, Sunways claims the country's Railway system could generate one terawatt hours of solar energy annually, which is about two percent of Switzerland's overall electricity requirements.

We'll look at this in a minute where to put the panels? It's not on the runway tracks, some ways intends to broaden its reach in the upcoming years. They always say this oh yeah, we're going to spend in all these other countries because it's a startup they have to sell themselves. We're going to generate one terawatt hours of electricity. We can solve all the environmental problems and governments just.

Oh oh here, please take our environmental money. Oh, pilot project will focus on Western Switzerland's public Railway system close to the Boots train station. We'll look at this location in a minute and it'll cost around uh four hundred thousand uh, Swiss Francs or 437 thousand dollars for this pilot program cash and I'll flush it down the toilet. And just like all the failed startups in solar roadways, because every one of them has failed, I've covered them in all.

my Videos pilot programs have epically failed every single one of them for the exact same reasons myself and everyone else thought that they'd fail. It's inevitable, but of course, a Sunways claim that their panels are more durable than conventional ones. You think? where have we heard that before? You remember the Netherlands are the solar cycle path. Yeah, this is how they ended up with just bikes riding over them.

You remember that system in China The panels got like broken and chewed up within a couple of days of their installation. Oops, and their people stole them. and look what happened to the French What? Way project? You remember this was like the largest Road contractor. This was the best shot at solar roadways and this is their system.

It just failed. And then there are all the articles about how the Francis Solar Roadway Experiment just epically failed. They got duped into spending money on this. It's unbelievable.

It's happening again from this uh Swiss company called Sunways. And yes, they've got a video. We cannot legitimately continue to generate electricity as we currently do. Yeah, Okay, so let's use solar panels and well, let's just put them on roofs or in like over the railways instead of under them.

and let's meet the team, shall we? Here's the founder: Joseph Uh, Skaderi. He's an entrepreneur. Of course he is marketing of course. Let's go over to his LinkedIn here.

I Help companies to cultivate their customer relationships and Carry Out communication actions by establishing a strong emotional climate because our acts of purchase depend 80 on our emotions. The tell is right there. they're preying on government emotions and governments wanting to Virtual signal to spend their, you know, the tax dollars on all these ecological you know, renewable energy Sustainable Solutions So they'll just give pilot money to anyone who comes along with a fancy uh, presentation and they'll just just hand money over like candy. Here you go.

So it's got 25 years of experience in marketing. Um, and well. I'm sure he has right? I'm sure he's a great marketer. Hey, he managed to get money out of the government good on him.

Hat tip: let's have a look at the video. there's no sound so we'll just, uh, let's just run this new Solar Tracks Skedari Marketing Services It's right there marketing, right? Anyway, the whole idea is actually like. The concept of how they're laying them is actually quite good, right? Hats off? Check. Check this out, right? They use like these little um bars that come out that then press against the tracks.

I Don't know how much tolerance there is in there. so they come out of the back of the train like this, right? So it's a really good method for laying this and they can pick them up because one of the first things you're going to be saying is, well, how do you service Like If you need to service the track, you need to rebalance the track. You need to clean it. Do whatever.

I Do even ballast in nearby tracks. The dust is all going to come over. But there you go. So they've got a solution for laying them down.

They'll have a specialized train that lays them down and then it will, um and another one. They don't show it here, but they have another one apparently. Well, another method to actually pick them up like this. You remember how I said The first thing is that causes problems for solar panels is vibration.

Um, you know you have to like make sure they're transported uh, properly so that you don't get micro cracks. Once you start getting micro cracks in the Silicon your efficiency, your panels can drop and they can even completely fail. One of the highest vibration environments possible is on a railway track. When it's like suspended on these arms like it's it's not actually laying on the sleepers there, right? Which is the wooden sleepers actually going across? It's actually these things are just in free air and they're coupling via these metal rods into this metal box with these um tabs that sort of you know can keep them and imagine if you get dust in there then you wouldn't be able to like the the pins that when you want to lift them off the pins are all jammed because it's all just filled with dust and crap in there.

But the vibration is going to couple into these solar panels. It's just a micro cracking. Bonanza Unbelievable that any anyone would come up with this idea just from like a vibration point of view alone. Solar Railways is actually better because you can like and embed them in like you can make them more flexible and you can embed them in solid glass and like they're really, you know, embedded in there.

and cars aren't nearly. You know, they've got rubber tires. They aren't nearly as vibrational, uh, prone as this. But you've already seen the problems with the vibration in the Solar roadways stuff and the panels just get absolutely destroyed.

I Mean come on. Anyway, I Do like how they've actually thought about how they're going to deploy them and how they're going to pick them up. But once again, the problem is, how do you get the energy out of these? Where are the wires? Okay, yeah, the train can come along and simply lay them all together. I Don't see any wires joining these or are they in? there are they.

are there contacts in there like that which go through like this, but like, seriously. But then how do you get the energy out? It's not like one track is positive, one track is negative here, and you can just couple the power into the tracks. The tracks don't work like that. How are you going to get the wires in and out? You've got to dig up your ballast here and get the wires in and out for however many then you've got to put like an inverter every 10 panels.

Are they in series? Are they like? what's? what's no? I Like just the wiring configuration and everything else for these little piddly panels. Apparently they're a meter wide by maybe I don't know. 1.2 meters long? They don't look quite Square So they're not too dissimilar to a regular sized rooftop. uh, solar panel.

And you want to lay these things down and have them suspended between these vibrational? Any any mechanical engineers in the audience please leave it in the comments down below how ridiculous this idea is. From a vibration coupling point of view, it's just an absolute show stopper right there. So vibration, Absolute show stopper. And then the wiring getting these things in and out.

if you want to do maintenance on the tracks or whatever. Yeah, absolutely screwed. because then you'd have to dig up all the wires and everything Again, like you like, how do you disconnect the things? And as I said, if dust gets inside those little you know levery things there, you probably can't get in there and and lift it back out or whatever, it's probably gets jammed and it's just oh goodness. And then of course the panels are reflective.

You've got train drivers who are trying to see in front of them. and then you've got these giant reflective solar panels. So in May they're going to use the pilot and do a pilot project 300 foot stretch. and uh, the scheme faces skepticism from the International Union of Railways No kidding.

Swiss info reports which has suggested the system could pose a fire risk, but some way says that built-in sensors will ensure the panels continue to function properly. How do the built-in sensors like, how do they work thing? How do they get the information back out to some monitoring system? The company says it's developing a way to melt snow and ice that gathers on the panels. No, no, no, no, you never go full. Bruce Or everyone knows this.

Here are the Bru saws out shoveling snow off their solar panels that are supposed to be able to have building heaters that remove the snow. Never go full. Bruce Or but it looks like they've done it. and again, the International Union of Railways has raised concerns about microcracks in the panels.

The roller: Union Who knows nothing about solar panels they're going. Oh yeah, I Think these things are going to crack and then they've got the risk of forest fires as well. Is that because of uh I don't overheating, uh, reflection? things can fall on the tracks I Don't know how forest fires can start, but they think it's a real concern. Fair enough and possible driver distraction caused by Reflections to prevent Reflections from glaring into train driver's eyes.

Some ways claimed that their panels are more durable than conventional ones. What's durable got to do with reflection? They still have a lot to prove. Yeah, you think no. this is good.

bet every dollar you've got that this fails epically. Then the other thing I mentioned. in addition to the vibration, you've got dust. Of course.

everyone's lived experience. Have you ever been? you know, like a underground railway station? That's everything. It's just covered in dust. Dust can come in many different types.

You can get brake dust from the actual you know, brakes on there. They've actually got disc pads. Here's an actual photo over brake pad on a train on a commuter train and these things they have to stop. and then you've got.

like the cantenary system, overhead, uh, wires and stuff you get little like, eventually they wear and you get things falling down. Then you can get the actual rail wear as well. You can get rust, uh particles and everything flies up. uh, ferrous and they're actually metal conductive dust as well.

Here's a study of all these. look iron like you know, silicon and you can get. Apparently they put like sand on the tracks as well that can create in some areas that can create uh, silica dust and they can just spray everywhere like in a gypsum, soot and zinc and get what copper and all sorts of stuff right? There's all sorts of these, um, dust particles just waiting to get embedded on your solar panels and in your wiring and everything. like no, now you've got more stuff like what's called a fugitive, uh, cold dust if you've got, like if you're transporting uh, coals, we get those trains coming through Sydney uh for example it's That's a huge problem as well, let alone other uh, you know, stuff that they're actually uh, hauling and things and and uh, come on.

Seriously. So here's a ballast cleaning machine. It actually picks up and it like it cleans the uh, ballast and look at all the dust coming out of it like this as the train goes along and all the vibration right. Of course they would lift the panels before any of this happens.

but even if you did it to a line that's next to a love another line because usually you've got multiple like tracks, it's it's all just spewing out. Look at all. they actually replaced the ballast underneath the tracks and stuff like that. This is all regular maintenance operation that, uh, you know, railway lines go on.

Look at this right? Sure, Okay, you rip up the paddles, but then how do you how easily do you rip them, uh, back up and relay them. Um, and they're all got to be connected. Like every panel has to be connected like I just I Can come on and just imagine if you had the the wires on the side of the tracks, all the embedded wires and stuff like that trying to get out from your solar panels. When you have these machines come along, you have to rip up all the wiring as well.

And here's more. Here's actually an ad for uh mask, uh masker protection that the line workers actually, uh, use. Imagine if you had your solar panels over here on this on this track right on the right hand side, you just know you're absolutely screwed. You can just get a sense though.

for the scale of maintenance required on train lines and the abuse. and and like you want to put solar panels between the tracks I Don't know. Leave it in the comments down below. Is it dumber than solar roadways? It? It's certainly a contender.

And yeah, they'll be the Fanboys in the comments. Oh, but you know the Wright brothers. They told them that they couldn't fly and well, they did. and well, it's just all you have to do is put money into it.

You've got to spend money into researching stuff like this. No, no, you don't Here's why. Okay, before you spend money on solar, freaking roadways, solar cycleways, sunways, bloody train tracks here. let me show you.

Okay, this is where they plan on installing this boots Railway station in in Switzerland Okay, it's look right. Look at all this land around here where they could put solar panels. Look it, Look at it all. Look this.

Factory over here has solar panels on it. Where are all the solar panels on these roofs? right? Where? Look. Look at all these roofs that they can put solar panels on. Look at all this land they've got beside the railway line and the road.

Here, you don't need solar panels on the roll on the road on the railway line. Really? this is where they're going to install it. I Kid you not. and I can see why.

because it's end of the line right? It's it's a terminal. Uh, stop here right? So it stops here so they don't have you know through freight train traffic here. So they get they've chosen. I Mean of course you're going to choose right? the best possible? Uh place? I Don't know.

Maybe along here perhaps? so like it's a single line and then how much down time are you going to have if uh, these things fail, cause problems or you have to rip them up every time that you want to, uh, like just maintain the tracks or do whatever. Um, and then you've got to rip the whole things up and then replace them like the downtime alone is just ridiculous. Yeah, so don't talk about solar Freaking. Railways Or solar freaking roadways until you have covered every single rooftop with solar panels because it doesn't matter how much money you invest in solar roadways or solar.

Railways So there's some ways rubbish here. It is always always going to be cheaper order of magnitude cheaper even to Simply install them on the roof. they're going to be an order of magnitude more reliable orders of magnitude more reliable to Simply stick them on the roofs or even above the roads. You can put you know a little town here you could have I don't know.

You could have a solar cycle way with the panels over the top shading like they do in like South Korea Oh they've actually got a new video. South Korea's solar power bike path. Here it is. this is from donkeys years ago.

I Put this in right. Here's an example. then I put them on the roads. Look, they have a cycle way.

But here's the footage that we've seen in previous videos. Don't put them on the roads and drive cars over the top of them. or have them on railway tracks and drive trains over the top of them. Just have a cycleway like this.

The maintenance is zero so the South Koreans know how to do it. Look at this. that goes for like 25 kilometers or something like that. I think so to put them on this Railway line here.

Just stop it. Stop it. Put them on the roofs, put them on the fields, put them beside. We have a canopy going over the top of the bloody.

Railway If you want it's just so dumb, just just stop it please. But as long as the money keeps flowing from the government's for these sorts of innovative solutions, then yeah, people, companies, startups will still continue. So once again, hats off the money's there. They've come up with this idea and they've taken the money.

and well, yeah, but as the Bruce laws have shown, you can have like more of a 15-year career just grifting off government money and and getting funding. Yeah, no, that's just an epic epic fail. sunways, Just no. And check it out.

This is like the actual track. It's going to be laid on giant poles and wires. like you've literally got inherent shade in over the top of the uh, where are you gonna put your solar panels you've already I've already done a video on how just the just the guy wire holding up my TV antenna dropped my solar panel efficiency by 20. And then you've got like other you know, signs and other signals and and things.

you are inherently going to get shade in from the overhead wires and the poles for you know, X number of hours, uh, per day. You know it's not huge, but it matters when you can put them on the damn roofs and they get no shading at all and they get no vibration at all. And then like they last 20 years just like other regular rooftop panels easily and you virtually never have to take them down for to maintain anything but to put them on the tracks, the train tracks, or the roads instead of on the roofs. Why? Why are people giving them money? Skedari Marketing services? That just says it all.

It's Anyway, some comments down below please. You know there's a ton of extra things which is going to cause this project. The Kamagatsa guaranteed. it's just leave them in the comments down below of all the problems you can think about with something like but there you go.

This is what 2023 delivered solo freaking Railways Of course. Catch you next time.

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24 thoughts on “Eevblog 1534 – solar freakin’ railways!”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars DougWare says:

    Politicians prefer to spend money on failed concepts because it means they can come back to the same well more than once, and they know the people pitching them are desperate enough to throw extra money at them to get the green light. Yep, it's a two-fer.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jonatan Rullman says:

    Wait until you hear about my new project. I call it solar freaking window blinds. Considering the amount of glare I get in my display I project that an array of 50 or so thin solar panels per window will have a guaranteed* efficiency of 300% compared to competing brands.

    *guarantees not guaranteed.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Nick Ush says:

    Yeah dude from a couple of days ago: solar freakin subways !! Hahaha… I was trying to think of a cleaver rebuke, cannot beat yours… Nice one 🙂

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Keith Whitehead says:

    To protect them from the weather, they will install them in tunnels….

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars boB Gudgel says:

    Oh No ! Not AGAIN !!?!?!??

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars ThatRedKite says:

    Fun fact: in some countries the train toilets work by just dumping the waste water onto the tracks. Let's not forget that the solar panels will likely interfere with train protection equipment (Eurobalise, LZB Wires, etc) and all the other stuff that you can find in the tracks (axle counters, defect detecors, track circuits used to detect the presence of a train, etc). Also this stuff would turn the lives of track maintenance crews into absolute hell for multiple reasons. Want to wash the bed? sorry, we first need to wait for the company to send one of their super fancy solar panel remover trains, wash the bed, put the solar stuff back on. I am also not quire sure how compatible it is with existing track inspection trains ("rail lab"). Also, there might be some issues when trains use their eddy current brakes or use their sand dispensers (they spray sand on the tracks to create more friction)

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Aaron Rhoades says:

    Puts broom, squeegee and magnet on the bottom of train…dust problem solved. Magnetic electrocouplers between each panel, wire problem solved…now the real question is how much real-estate do railroads take up and how much power can they generate? You can either be a pessimist with current technology, or be an optimist and out engineer the "current problems". The physics will never change but a poor attitude on innovation will stifle it…

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Rusty Heckler says:

    I donno, I think my solar sewer pipes are a winner! So absurd politicians won't be able to resist.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars charchess charchess says:

    that technology is amazing !!! talking about the replacing balast trains :p

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars youtuuba says:

    I am surprised that in Dave's commentary, no mention was made of the depicted solar panels (retangular) coupled by hinges would not be able to follow the curvature of the tracks. And those spindly rods supporting the wedge that forces the hinge clamps against the rails would in no way be able to withstand the forces of all those repeated impacts; they would just band and twist. Very grifty, and very stupid of the authorities who even allow this company to get its foot in the door.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars JLTSoft says:

    Here in the states (and I am writing this while riding on Chicago Metra double decker train cars) the steel rails for the tracks actually flex as the wheels go over them. The tracks can actually sink a few inches while the cars roll over them. Forget about vibration… That flexing will rip these things to shreds!

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars TheDiveO says:

    I really like the miniscule wheels in the promo vid

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jon says:

    Will not work in many countries, with the toilet beeing a hole in the floor.

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars jrrscttktts says:

    Also, train crews spend most of their time inspecting the track as they go along. How would they do that when they’re covered?

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars jrrscttktts says:

    Um… snow plows anyone. Or does Switzerland not get snow?

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Lars Larsen says:


  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Casey Schmidt says:

    Solar freakin’ runways for electric planes????

  18. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Emil Almberg says:

    I read about how Sweden's railways were electrified.
    The voltage was chosen to be the highest manageable at 16000 volts, and the current to the highest reasonable considering the area of ​​the cables, to 200 Amps, there will thus be an effect of 3.2MW.
    For that, solar panels with an area of ​​16,000 square meters are needed.
    If there is 1 meter between the tracks, you need to lay out 16 kilometers of panels, for ONE train…

  19. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars modern idiotism says:

    imagine instead of puting solar panels under the trains hear me here on the trains

  20. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Hola! Peter Ward says:

    And the Korean solution over the <path> allows the flat panels to be aimed in the right direction and tilted a bit for better angle of incidence to the sun… It's not tracking, but it beats flat on the ground. As the path meandered around, the panels appeared to have the same orientation the whole way through.

  21. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars malcolmhutchison says:

    It might work in the UK due to the poor train service we have with services cancelled due to weather/engineering faults/stikes etc

  22. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars CAO Designworks says:

    They'll do literally anything but put solar panels where they actually work, on roof tops, over parking lots, sides of buildings, etc…

  23. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars BlackToeJam says:

    😳😆🤣 just why

  24. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Zoinks says:

    Lol for all the reasons in the video. Also, in the U.K., trains have grit dispensers that deposit it on the rails by the wheels when needed to improve traction, e.g. wet or ice on the rail. And almost every week here there are weekend line closures for maintenance. They have to do a lot in a very limited time windows and now they would have to factor in dealing with the panels too.

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