Solar tunnel is the name given to a 3.6-kilometer (2.2-mile) tunnel covering part of the track for, and that provides power to, high-speed trains running between Paris and Amsterdam. The tunnel, built to protect trains from falling trees as they pass through an ancient forest near Antwerp, is covered with solar cells and has the capability to generate 3.3 MWh of electricity per year – equivalent to the average annual consumption of nearly 1,000 homes.
The $22.9 million project uses 16,000 solar panels, which cover 50,000 square meters (about 538,000 square feet) and provide enough electricity to power 4,000 trains a year. The trains tap into the solar energy as they pass through the tunnel at 186 mph. The electricity also provides power for lighting, signals, and other infrastructure.