Sun Dec 9th, 2007 at 07:13:32 PM EST
I'm not sure if this applies for a lot of Europe's train lines, but in the U.S. and Canada, rail lines typically occupy about 10% of the property owned by rail companies. This is because the track section (rails and ties) is only about 2 meters wide/track, while the property containing the track would typically be about 30 meters wide. Then there are the rail yards, sidings, and "abandoned" land which used to have some function associated with the rails.
For rail companies, income is derived from not only the trains running down the tracks, but also leasing activities, especially for other utilities, like electric lines, gas, oil, petroleum pipelines, fiber optics, cell-phone towers, microwave towers and maybe even the odd Ammonia line (~ 3000 km of those in the U.S.). However, one thing that they apparently do not have is income from wind turbine leasing...
Diary Rescue by Migeru - rescued by autofew <skrr>
[editor's note, by Migeru] Fold inserted here for the front page.
As far as a train would be concerned, a wind turbine on the side of the tracks would be just like a big tree growing alongside the rails, one that is 4.2 meters at the base, and probably 80 meters tall. A modest sized redwood, so to speak. Only this tree would provide about $4000/MW-capacity per year income, which is more than most trees provide. Odds are, some cell-pone antennae could also be attached to the tower (but below where the blade could interfere), provided this is economically justifiable. Another source of income would be in how the turbine (tower, blades and nacelle) and much of the construction equipment (crane, concrete, etc) get there. It turns out that wind turbine shipments via rail are so much more logical and a low cost solution, especially for long hauls (300 to 3000 km, for example). And many rail companies are doing more and more business in this area; its also about 7 to 10 times more energy efficient to use rail instead of trucks.
So far, I have been unsuccessful in finding any examples of commercial scale turbines placed next to rail lines in the U.S. The amazing thing is that this actually seems like a novel idea.....it's so simple, and why hasn't anyone else thought of this? But, maybe this lack of examples is just a North American thing, since our wind resource (at < 10 c/kw-hr generated power cost at a 15% IRR) is several times the current U.S. total electrical demand. In Canada's case, they have a similar wind resource, but about 10% of the U.S. population. So we have no shortage of wind sites, and instead, have a shortage of wind sites with existing transmission capacity to provide electricity in the 4 c/kw-hr range.....with some exceptions. The exceptions occur in states with relatively high natural gas usage to make electricity, such as New York and Texas, and most of New England.
And, looking to the future, this might also get to be a way to making electrically powered trains in the U.S., with some or most of the needed electricity provided by turbines installed on the side of the tracks. But that may be a ways off, even as we close in on $4/gallon for diesel fuel.
So, if anyone has an example of a commercial scale unit put next to a RR track, please put in a comment or zap me a line at Tantalum73@verizon.net. Pictures would also be nice, but not necessary.