Indian Railways aim to go green with solar energy

Indian
Railways can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 239 tonnes per year per
train by fixing solar panels atop coaches. A team of researchers from Indian
Institute of Science in Bengaluru calculate that installing photovoltaic panels
atop coaches can reduce 239 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year per
train, which is roughly equal to the annual emissions of 50 cars in the city.
On an average, 11,000 trains ply in India every day. The researchers say the
Railways can save close to Rs 60 lakh annually on each train by shifting to
solar panels.

Image credit: abplive

Lead
researcher Sheela K Ramasesha and her team calculated the energy consumption
pattern of a train with 19 Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches, which are used in
superfast trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Durunto. The Railways plan to
introduce LHB coaches in all the trains in the coming years. They found that to
make a 1,800 km trip, a rake (comprising of 19 LHB coaches) consumes 3,000
litres of diesel for auxiliary energy needs such as lighting and cooling.
“Assuming that the rake makes 188 trips in a year, our calculations indicate
that 90,804 litres of diesel can be conserved every year, with a saving of Rs
59,93,064, by putting solar panels on the train,” says Ramasesha.

The
researchers suggest that the estimated price of an LHB rail coach with a solar
power generation system is 4 per cent higher than the price of the present LHB
coaches. The investment would be recovered within two-three years, they say. Talking
about the feasibility of the project, It is clear that the energy that can be
harnessed during sunshine hours is much more than the requirements of the train
even during the shorter days of winters. The researchers, as a result, suggest
the installation of batteries to store excess energy to be used at night.

In
an ambitious plan to tap solar energy, the Delhi division of the Northern
Railway is all set to use trains to generate solar power by the year-end. For
the purpose, the railway authorities will roll out first train with solar
panels fixed on its roof by the end of this year. According to senior official
of the Delhi rail division, the trial run of a passenger train with solar
panels fitted on top of one of its coaches was successfully completed and a
train fitted with solar panels on all its coaches will run by end of the year.
Solar power generated the moving trains will be used to meet the requirements
of the trains themselves.

According
to divisional railway manager Arun Arora, the trial run was successfully
completed on Sitapur-Rewari passenger train and one coach had generated 1.3 KW
of power. “The power generated by the solar panel set on the train top will be
used to meet lighting and other electrical requirements of the coaches,” said
Mr Arora. The railways will spend Rs 4 lakh for installing solar panels on each
coach. “With a rate of return of 25 per cent in a year, the railways will
recover the installation cost in four years. After four years, it will help the
railways to save power bills,” added Mr Arora.

As
per initial plan, solar panels will be fitted on passenger trains which
originate and terminate within the jurisdiction of the Delhi division. “In the
first phase, we will run passenger trains fitted with solar panels. In the
second phase, mail or express trains will be fitted with panels to generate
solar power to meet requirements,” said Mr Arora.

Researchers
from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have sent their proposal to
the Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala, Punjab, after showing through a
theoretical study that solar panels can save up to 90,000 litres of diesel per
rake per year. The researchers say they are trying to collaborate with railway
engineers to select appropriate solar panels that could fit on rail coach
rooftops and tolerate the vibrations and other forces they would encounter
during high-speed runs. 
(Via
Asianage)

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