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One of Finland's largest solar power plants on the depot of national railway company VR Group

In the second half of 2020, Solnet delivered a large solar power plant to VR FleetCare's Helsinki depot. The solar power plant, which was commissioned before the turn of the year, is one of the largest in Finland, with a nominal capacity of 928 kWp. The solar power plant at the Helsinki depot is one of the top projects in VR Group's responsibility program. With the help of the electricity generated by the solar power plant, trains can be serviced even more environmentally friendly.

Inexpensive and clean energy

The introduction of solar energy is part of VR FleetCare's larger energy efficiency project. “In line with our vision, we are on our way to being the best in the world. In addition to the environmental values that are important to us, the construction of a solar power plant is also an economically viable project. After a one-time investment, the energy produced by the power plant is practically free. In the longer term, the total annual radiation of the sun varies only slightly, so taking into account the investment cost, the price of the energy produced will remain locked in well into the future. ” Juha Ohvo, VR FleetCare's Safety Director, knows.

The aim is to increase our own energy production

The role of rail transport in reducing emissions from Finnish traffic is significant. Rail transport produces less emissions and consumes less energy than other modes of transport. Electricity produced with renewable energy has long been used extensively in VR's traffic. Although train travel is carbon neutral, VR Group is committed to doing even more for the environment.

“The solar power plant is one of the top projects in our responsibility program,” says Martti Jalkanen, the energy unit's energy expert and site maintenance manager, who acted as project manager in the power plant project. "In addition to solar electricity, we have increased the use of renewable energy in properties by switching from oil heating to geothermal in several locations." Jalkanen continues.

Security as part of decision making

From Solnet’s point of view, it is great that big players are showing a model in renewable energy production. Property-specific photovoltaics are an economically viable way to increase emission-free electricity production in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. With the help of solar electricity, property owners - both public and private organizations - can not only reduce their own climate impact, but also save costs.

It is also great to note that safety issues have surfaced in the procurement of property-specific solar power plants. Due to the nature of operations, the safety culture at VR FleetCare's Helsinki depot is already at a really high level. Hundreds of tons of trains run in the hall area and there are high-voltage overhead lines on the tracks. For this reason, special attention was also paid to safety in the procurement of the solar power plant.

The solar power plant in the Helsinki depot is based on the utilization of automation and data. The solar power plant is equipped with power optimizers that monitor and optimize the operation of the system. In addition, current optimizers can be used to reduce the voltage of the panel field on the roof of the system to a safe level, if necessary. This was also the wish of the rescue service when the system was designed. The rescue service wanted to ensure that the panels could be disconnected from each other so that they did not generate life-threatening voltage during any extinguishing work. With power optimizers, this is possible.

Read more on the VR FleetCare website.