Yes, you CAN power full-scale trains with solar + a battery. An Australian train has solar panels on its roof + solar panels on a storage building next to where it parks. These solar panels collectively generate electricity, which then fills the train’s battery and powers the train.
According to Positive.News, this passenger train that carries tourists in Australia is equipped with specially designed, curved solar panels that are capable of generating 6.5 kW. Additional panels on the storage shed roof can produce a further 30kW to top up the train’s lithium-ion batteries if necessary.
Located in coastal New South Wales, Australia, Byron Bay doesn’t lack for sun, notes Positive.News. But on cloudy days or when traveling at night, the train’s batteries can be charged from the electricity grid. To retain its zero emission credentials, the heritage line owners use a local renewable energy supplier, reports Positive.News.
“Everyone said it couldn’t be done and I love a challenge,” Tim Elderton, an engineer at the Lithgow Railway Workshop, which worked with the Byron Bay Railroad Company on the Byron Bay Train project, told Positive.News.