The Indian Railways has taken yet another step towards a greener future by announcing trial runs of solar powered trains this week.
A six-coach Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) rake has already been made ‘solar-ready.’ 12 solar panels with the capacity to generate 3.6 Kilowatts of electricity have been welded onto the roof of each of the six coaches.
These panels will supplant the load of the 1.5 Kilowatts required to power all electrical appliances within the train, including lights and fans.
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The solar panelling has been done by Jakson Engineers Limited (JEL), a Noida-based firm that won a Rs. 1.57 crore contract last year to fit solar panels on 50 DEMU coaches, including on pilot projects in Chennai and Amritsar.
The Indian Express reports that the first trial will be conducted within a week’s time in Jodhpur.
“The train route will be decided only after studying the project’s viability post the trails,” said Gopal Sharma, the PRO North Western Railways
The initiative is a part of the Indian Railways’ ‘Solar Mission,’ announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the Railway Budget for 2016-2017. The Solar Mission is a bid to explore renewable energy options to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. It includes plans to generate 1000MW of solar power in the next five years.
By using alternative fuels, the Railways hope to save 90,800 litres of diesel per rake. This will also lead to a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 200 tonnes.
Already, the Indian Railways is using eco-friendly CNG on local trains in the Rohtak-Rewari section of Delhi.
It had also pushed for trail runs of three solar powered trains last year.