Solar For Trains_India

Indian Railways Commences Trial For Its First Solar Panel-Powered Train

Indian Railways has commenced the trial run of its first solar panel-powered train. This is one step closer to India’s goal of using purely solar-powered trains in the near future.

The Indian train system is the fourth largest in the world and Indians are heavily dependent on this public transport system. Due to the large population, more and more trains are being utilised to keep up with the ever-increasing demand, which means more electricity.

The Indian Railways train will conduct its trial run in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The DEMU train which is being used for the trial run has eight coaches, with each coach fitted with twelve solar panels. Diesel engines will pull the coaches and the solar panels will power the internal components of the coaches.

Each solar panel will have the capacity to generate 300W of electricity, which means 3.6KW of power per coach. These would generate enough electricity to power lights and fans inside the coaches; however it would be insufficient to run air-conditioning.

Northern Railways first trialled the use of solar panels in 2015, fitted to one coach of the Rewari-Sitapur broad gauge passenger train; however this is the first time a DEMU (Diesel Electric Multiple Unit) broad gauge train would be fitted with solar panels across all coaches.

Studies have shown that a train using solar power can reduce diesel consumption by up to 90,000 litres per year and also bring down carbon dioxide emissions by over 200 tonnes. Additionally, solar panels and further alternative sources of energy could save Rs. 82 lakhs per train per year. The long-term goal is to source 10 per cent of all energy by way of renewable sources.

While alternate fuel sources like CNG, CNG-diesel hybrids and natural gases are being used, they have previously not been applied to large scale rail transport platforms.

In March 2015, a 1MW solar power plant was set up at Katra station, a move which could save up to Rs 1 crore annually on energy bills and is expected to cut 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. It is the biggest rooftop solar plant built in Jammu and Kashmir and the largest solar power plant built by Indian Railways. Presently, the plant is harnessing 5000 units of renewable energy daily.

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