Rail transport faces huge present and future challenges for which innovation and step changes are necessary. As UIC’s overall mission is to promote an increased use of rail transport at world level and to help members make rail transport more attractive, effective, sustainable and economically viable, the General Assemblies have brought their strong support to the ambitious programme of UIC’s International Railway Research Board (IRRB), as well as its initiative to set up the UIC Rail Research & Innovation Awards. The 3rd edition of the Awards came to an end through the organisation of the award ceremony held in St Petersburg in Russia on 1 December 2016.
Through these Awards, the UIC aims to support and promote:
- The development of theoretical, experimental and applied research in railway transport
- The development process of international cooperation in this field
- The promotion and attraction of leading experts from different countries, research institutes, universities, railway operators, infrastructure managers, railway suppliers, passenger transport organisations, governmental bodies in charge of transport and individual research to address the most important problems and challenges of modern railways
- The global recognition of the role of single researchers and research groups in order to establish rail as the sustainable backbone of the transportation system which is cost-efficient, reliable, safe and secure and will therefore become the mode of choice for passengers and freight forwarders
As well as to:
- Support and encourage gifted young researchers, stimulate their research work in the sphere of railway transport, prepare a new generation of researchers, lay the foundations for future innovative development of railway transport and attract young researchers in the sphere of railway transport as well as to support the creation of favourable conditions for scientific discoveries and innovative achievements involving young researchers
- Honour those persons who have spent their lifetime trying to innovate and improve the railway system and its services – the Lifetime Achievement Award
Following the previous articles in the series of 2016 Awards we now present you with some information on Mr. Georg Pöppl – UIC Global Rail Research & Innovation Awards – Rail System Technology Award Winner 2016 and his contributions to the Research and development of the world’s first photovoltaic power plant providing 16.7 Hz traction current.
Georg Pöppl, Head of Life-Cycle-Management Energy in the business unit Railway Systems of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, Austria. 2006: PhD in Energy Systems and Energy Economics from University of Technology Vienna. 2011: Head of Asset Management, Business Unit Energy at ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG. Since 2014: Head of Life-Cycle-Management of power plants of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, technical, economical and legal responsibility of the traction power system, such as power plants, traction power supply line, frequency converter, substations and energy control center operated by ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG as well as the operative and strategic energy system development.
ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG is the supplier of traction power to railway undertakings in Austria. Other than in the rest of Europe - Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland use 16.7 Hz traction current and not 50 Hz. One of the main goals of ÖBB is to raise the share of renewable energy within the traction power supply in Austria. Therefore ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG has developed the world’s first photovoltaic plant for 16.7 Hz traction power, that directly feeds into the overhead line – where electricity is consumed, so conversion and transmission losses are reduced to a minimum. The world’s first solar power plant for 16.7 Hz traction power was built in Lower Austria, along the train’s route with a total surface of two hectares.
The challenge was to develop a power inverter, that transforms solar energy into single-phase 16,7 traction power. Since December 2014 7000 solar modules have fed 16.7 Hz traction power directly via a 95 power inverter into the overhead line. Since completion the power plant is in trouble-free condition. The solar plant has a peak power of 1 MWp – in 2015 the solar plant exceeded expectations and produced 1.13 MWh. Therefore, in 2015, 200 trains or 80,000 passengers were transported with solar energy e.g. from Vienna to Salzburg and 500 tons of CO2 were reduced.
With the successful installation of the first 16.7 Hz solar power plant ÖBB has set new technical standards. This project serves as a best-practice example for other railway 16.7 Hz - Infrastructure managers. Moreover sustainability and competitiveness of the railway system against the road is increased and shall also provide an incentive to change travel mode. Dependence from public 50 Hz power grid is reduced and efficiency increased which leads to reduced energy costs in future. Passengers as well as rail freight companies are able to drive with environmental public transport. The results of the first solar power plant are used for a roll out of solar power plants along the train’s route in Austria.