On 14 July, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu today launched the country’s first solar-powered train from Safdarjung Railway Station, New Delhi.
The train will run from Sarai Rohilla, Delhi to Farukh Nagar, Haryana; a route will reportedly be decided upon soon.
A total of 16 solar panels – each producing 300 Wp – are fitted in six coaches. Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next 6 months.
Funded by the government’s “Make in India” venture, the train was described by Mr Prabhu as a “path-breaking leap” towards making Indian trains more environment-friendly
The first DEMU
The first diesel electrical multiple unit (DEMU) train with solar powered coaches with a unique facility of battery bank, the train has a power back-up and can run on battery for at least 72 hours.
The entire electrical need of the coaches for lighting, fans and information display systems will be met from the solar energy produced from the solar panels fitted in the roofs of coaches. These panels were manufactured under the “Make in India” initiative; the cost was Rs 54 lakh.
This is the first time in the world that solar panels are being used as grid in railways.
“A path-breaking leap”
The train was manufactured by the Coach Factory of Indian Railways namely Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. The solar panels and solar systems were developed and fitted by Indian Railways Organisation of Alternative Fuel (IROAF), Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion of the train’s maiden journey, Suresh Prabhu said, “Indian Railways has taken a path breaking leap towards making Indian Railways’ trains greener and more environment friendly. Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has also been emphasising on use of green energy and Environment friendly measures. Indian Railways is committed for environment conservation & use of cleaner fuels. Indian Railways is trying to increase use of non-conventional sources of energy. More solar powered trains may be inducted in future.”
Part of Indian Railways’ push to make trains more eco-friendly
Normally, DEMU trains provide power for its passenger comfort systems – lights and fans – from a diesel-driven generator. But Indian Railways has developed this system with a smart MPPT inverter which optimises power generation on a moving train to cater to full load even during the night. The unique feature of Battery Bank through storage battery ensures sufficient electricity when the sunlight is not available.
The system helps in reducing Diesel consumption of the DPC and hence reduces carbon signature of these commuter trains by reducing CO2 generation by 9 Tonnes per coach per year.
A solar power DEMU train with six trailer coaches will save about 21,000 Litres of Diesel and thereby bring cost saving of Rs.12 Lac every year. Savings for a 10 coach rake with 8 trailer coaches will increase proportionately. These benefits will continue for entire 25 years life time of the rake. This will help in making DEMU commuter services better, more economical and environment friendly.
Indian Railways has already made a target of 1000 MW Solar Plants in next five-years. Indian Railways is also taking several others environment friendly measures like Tea Plantation, Bio-toilet, Water-Recycling, Waste Disposal, using Bio-fuel CNG and LNG, Wind Energy etc.