India’s national transporter Indian Railways today introduced its first solar-powered rake with a battery back-up to enable it to run at night as well. The move is part of a string of measures being introduced in a bid to shift towards clean energy to reduce its mammoth energy bill.
The 1,600 Horse Power rake has been conceptualized by Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) using flexible solar panels and Lithium-Ion batteries. The train will run from Sarai Rohilla station in Delhi to Farrukhnagar in Haryana.
“Climate change is a global issue and our Prime Minister has shown the way to fight it with the Paris Agreement. Railways is the largest consumer of electricity in the world and we need to move towards cleaner fuel. We have decided to save up to Rs 41,000 crore in the next ten years by deciding to install 1,000 MW of solar and 200 MW of wind capacity, waste to energy management and procurement of direct electricity,” rail minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said at the inauguration of the train.
The contract for supplying solar panels was awarded to Noida-based energy firm Jakson at a cost of Rs 54 lakh. IROAF has also floated a tender to procure 250 more such coaches. The rail ministry said in a statement 24 such coaches will be fitted with the solar system at Shakur Basti in Delhi within six months. The railways aims to save around Rs 21,000 litres of diesel through these rakes and also aim to bring cost saving of Rs 12 lakh ever year.
“We found that the load of fans, lights and air conditioner (technically called hotel load) contributes towards a major amount of fuel consumption on the trains. Therefore, we decided to use solar panels for powering this kind of load for the coaches to reduce fuel consumption,” IROAF Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ravinder Gupta told ETEnergyword.
According to the ministry’s statement, solar hotel load system fitted on each coach is of 4.5 kilowatt peak (KWp) capacity consisting of 16 solar panels of 300 Wp each and is capable of developing up to 20 kWh per day throughout the year. The national carrier had introduced the first solar-panel train last year as a technology demonstrator. However, this will be the first rake with an energy storage system which will enable it to function during the night too.
“We are also focusing on storing energy. We need to have capacity for storing solar energy when the availability of sun is low, during rains, winter or night time. Storage capacity will also increase the efficiency of the panels. We should eventually aim towards implementing this on all trains,” Prabhu said. The minister added the national carrier has also begun energy auditing, including the auditing of diesel consumption, to ensure savings.