Indian Railways is soon going to materialize its ambitious plan of harnessing solar energy to run trains. The prototype of the solar power-enabled coach is undergoing trials, and soon the entire train will be fitted with solar panels, officials said. They said that while solar power will significantly bring down diesel consumption, it will also prove to be cost-effective. At present, nearly 17 units of electricity are being generated from the solar power enabled coach.
“As the pilot project, one non-AC coach has been fitted with solar panels on the rooftop. The trial has been successful so far with the coach generating nearly 17 units of electricity every day. Depending on its success, decision will be taken to convert the entire train into a solar power-enabled one,” said Divisional Railway Manager, Arun Arora.
“Solar energy will be used to meet the electricity needs in moving trains, and reduce diesel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions,” Arora said.
Officials said that by harnessing solar power, the railways will be able to save Rs 1.24 lakh per coach year.According to a Northern Railway official, a train’s roof top has a total surface area of 40 square metres. While 24 square metres of this space is covered with 12 solar panels, the remaining 16 square metres throw open the potential for six more.
As part of the pilot project, a non-AC coach has been fitted with solar panels on the roof.According to studies, a train using solar power can reduce diesel consumption by up to 90,000 liters per year and also bring down the carbon dioxide emission by over 200 tonnes. As per the plan, the train would be pulled by conventional diesel-run engines while solar panels will provide all the internal electricity needs for lights and fans on both AC and non-AC coaches.
Officials said India has huge solar power potential, with a good amount of sunlight available for a major part of the day round the year. Harnessing solar power to power Indian Railways is more feasible and cost-effective.