Victorian Era Bridge Goes Solar Steampunk

The Blackfriars Bridge over the River Thames was constructed back in Victorian times, and now it’s getting a distinctly steampunk facelift with the addition of 4,400 photovoltaic panels. When complete, this installation is expected to be not only the largest solar power array in the United Kingdom, but also the world’s largest solar bridge.

The bridge, constructed in 1886, forms the foundation for the new Blackfriars station, which is being upgraded by Network Rail to meet the needs of more passengers and an improved train service. As part of these improvements,  a new roof will be added to the historic structure with over 6,000 square meters (around 65,000 square feet) of solar panels.

Blackfriars Bridge solar installation

image via Solarcentury

All this renewable energy will be delivered directly to the Blackfriars rail station, covering 50 percent of the station’s energy needs and reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tons per year. The station will also be pursuing such eco-improvements as a rain harvesting system and solar tubes to allow for more natural lighting throughout the building.

London’s Solarcentury is behind the project’s solar engineering, working in conjunction with engineers from Jacobs to incorporate solar generation into the station design; the high-efficiency solar modules utilized by the project come courtesy of Sanyo.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply December 12, 2011

    Solar Panels

    I’ve seen a lot of news and opinions about the Blackfriars bridge and a project like this has really captured the imagination and thoughts of a lot of people. In particular it is pleasing to see the applications possible with solar panels and how this can work and be adapted to a multitude and diversity of projects.

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