Indian Railways Get Promising Results From Solar Powered Coach

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Fuel bills form the second largest expenditure for the Indian Railways, following the salaries of its employees.

Indian Railways (IR) consumed over 17.5 billion kWh of electricity during 2013–14. This corresponds to about 4000 MW — which is almost 1.8% of India’s power generation capacity.

IR is the country’s single largest high speed diesel (HSD) guzzler. In 2012-13, two-thirds of IR’s fuel bill was consumed by HSD, the remaining being spent for electricity. Indian Railways plans 1 GW solar power capacity

Quite interestingly, IR is also the third largest consumer of water behind Agriculture and Power sectors. There is no surprise that the Ministry has been focusing on energy efficiency and alternate fuels!

With its eyes set on the future, Railways has announced big ticket solar projects.

About a week back, IR announced promising results from its experiments on solar powered coaches.

The Integral Coach Factory of IR had announced a project in association with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras to design coaches that will draw power from the sun for interior lighting and cooling.

As a pilot project, one non-air-conditioned coach of Rewari-Sitapur passenger train was been fitted with solar panels on the rooftop. The panels have been generating 17 kWh of electricity every day, which has been used for lighting load.

The cost of fitting these PV panels on a coach is estimated to be ₹390k (~$6,095). Given that the coach is powered from a diesel-based electric generator, the subsidy-free-payback can be as low as 4 to 5 years.

According to reports, a train using solar power can reduce diesel consumption by up to 90,000 litres per year and also bring down the carbon dioxide emission by over 200 tonnes.

IR has now ramped up its testing on a few other routes to better understand the techno-economic viability of the concept, before it can be rolled out on a larger scale.

Check this press release for a number of measures being taken by IR for sustainable development.

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Anand Upadhyay

is a Fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, New Delhi). He tweets at @indiasolarpost. Views and opinion if any, are his own.

Anand Upadhyay has 95 posts and counting. See all posts by Anand Upadhyay