Indian Railways bets big on solar power! After successfully experimenting use of solar panels in DEMU trains, Indian Railways is all set to install them on 250 coaches of mainline trains. In a big step towards environment-friendly measures, Indian Railways has installed flexible solar panels on the roof of the Sitapur Delhi-Riwari passenger train. These solar panels have been retro-fitted on the non air-conditioned coaches by Indian Railway Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF). The solar energy generated from the panels will be used to power fans, lights and mobile charging points.
An IROAF official told Financial Express Online that the cost of fitting solar panels on each coach varies is approximately Rs 9 lakh and with more solar panels being fitted it will come down to Rs 3-4 lakh per coach. According to the official, the biggest advantage of the electricity generation through solar panels is that it supplements the batteries that often tend to run down due to the slow speed of the trains.
The IROAF told FE Online that each coach will generate 15-20 units of electricity every day. In a 10 coach train as many as 80000 units per year will be generated. The total weight of these solar panels is 120 kg. The coaches also have sensors which are meant to monitor the parameters of the solar energy that is being generated. In the first coach a total of 60 solar panels have been installed. In all IROAF has fitted the new flexible solar panels on 11 coaches.
Indian Railways has identified 3 more trains on which the flexible light-weight solar PV panels will be fitted. These are 14203/04 Varanasi–Lucknow Intercity, 54255/56, Varanasi–Lucknow via Pratapgarh, 54334/33 Lucknow–Varanasi via Faizabad. The solar panels have been manufactured by CEL and the tender for solar panels on 250 coaches (including the 4 trains mentioned earlier) will be floated by mid-August.
Last year, Indian Railways unveiled its first DEMU train in which the lights and fans are powered with the help of roof-top solar panels. For DEMU trains the estimated saving on account of reduction in consumption of high speed diesel is Rs 3 crore per train over life time of 25 years of coaches and reduction of CO2 emission to the extent of 1350 tonnes per train over life time.
Indian Railways is extensively betting on the use of renewable energy – solar power – to meet its electricity needs for not only trains, but stations as well. Several stations across the Indian Railways network – Katra, Guwahati, New Delhi – to name a few are harnessing solar power in a bid to move towards more environment-friendly ways of meeting electricity needs.