Most people are not aware that the train system is one of the most efficient means of moving people and merchandise around. However, there is room for improvement and some Indian train operators are turning to solar panels on cars, as well as wind and solar energy near the tracks.
Indian Trains Install Solar Panels
Although trains are highly efficient when moving, the problem is starting the multi-ton metal rolling beast and bringing it up to speed. Once the train is moving, little energy is needed to keep its velocity going. Anyone who has ridden a bicycle understands this concept.
Train efficiency improvements are measured in increments of 1 to 3%. There is certainly room for fuel improvements in this industry. Besides better thermal engines, many companies are turning their attention to solar panels on cars and even batteries that make trains energy independent for up to 72 hours, perfect for those impromptu stops in the middle of nowhere.
Indian Railways is now harvesting solar energy directly and also relying on wind and sunshine harvested on the side of the tracks. It makes a lot of sense.
Refinements on trains reached zenith heights around the 1950s to 1970s. Perhaps the most famous of them all, the Trans Europ Express lines, showed impressive ingenuity, class, efficiency, and comfort. The German DB train operator resorted to installing a pantograph on its restaurant car. The pantograph is a metallic arm that rises upward to make contact with the electric catenary that runs along the tracks on a top. This elegant solution means that even when stopped or unhooked from the locomotive that normally provides electricity for the train, the restaurant car had its own energy and could potentially survive being stuck somewhere as long as there was electricity in the catenary above.
Hindi only video below! Well, even if you don’t follow Hindi, you’ll get a feel for what the train looks like and how they were modified.
Indian Trains Install Solar Panels To Further Raise Efficiency
Trains have pushed the electrification of mobility in more ways than we realize today. In the early 1930s, GE was already building hybrid locomotives. During that same period, trains undertaking the steep climb from France to the Swiss Alps on the Gottardo line were helped by trains coming down using regenerative braking and sending the extra electricity to substations feeding climbing trains with an extra boost.
Putting solar panels on cars and harvesting clean, renewable energy on the side of the tracks is an eventuality.
Planning no less than 1 MW of power capacity by 2020, the Indian state-owned rail operators first began testing solar panels on trains in 2015, using them only to power lights and air conditioning. Today, the company signed agreements for about 250 MW of solar-electrified rails, mostly from utility-scale farms.
The national railway system isn’t stopping here either. It plans to continue its efficiency path by implementing other energy saving systems, including switching to LED lighting, harvesting rainwater, planting of 50 million trees, among many other things. Even its administrative buildings are being greenified according to the company with a new 16 MW solar system now functioning.
On a different angle, unless you’ve traveled to India, you will probably not get the full monty of this presentation event. India is a wild and vibrant nation with very colorful religious and philosophical expressions of devotion. It doesn’t celebrate in a shy or discreet way. Trucks are made up, shrines erected everywhere, all adorned with ancient scripts and protection symbols. As customary, the hybrid commuter train was properly made up in a ceremony typical of this amazing ancient culture.
Indian Trains Install Solar Panels, Further Boost Efficiency
The day India installs solar panels on trains is the day we can say renewable energy is here to stay. That day has now arrived.
Of all the transportation industry, trains might not pollute the most, but they certainly still contribute to pollution all over the world. They should be solarized. They need to be solarized. And they are now being solarized in India!
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