Earlier this month, Indian Railways introduced a train to their fleet powered by solar panels. The panels will provide electricity to internal systems, lights, and passenger coaches. While the locomotive will still be powered by diesel, 16 solar panels installed on the top of each car will replace all of the diesel motors usually required to provide power to each coach.
The estimated savings for each complete train is approximately 21,000 liters of fuel each year, or about $20,000 USD.
Indian Railways’ trains consume an average of 2.5 billion liters of fuel each year, about 70% of their total fuel bill.
The new solar powered train will be introduced in a small rail network in Delhi as a trial run. If the trail is successful, 24 additional trains will be introduced around the city. Delhi is known for its pollution and the Railway authorities hope this is a step towards addressing the problem.
The cost to install these new solar panels on existing rail cars is recoupable in less than a year, making it an obvious choice for the Indian Railway group to retrofit as many trains as possible. Each retrofit includes a power inverter and additional batteries to store unused power.
By 2020, Indian Railways, a government organization, hopes to contribute to the country’s renewable energy goals by generating 1,000 MW (megawatts) of energy from solar power. By 2025, they hope to increase this number to 5,000 MW. While the obvious effects are that the rail company can reduce fuel costs, these contributions will help the country reach its goal of generating 175,000 MW of energy from renewable sources by the start of the next decade.