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Old 12th June 2015, 10:22   #1
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Default Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

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When Railway minister, Suresh Prabhu, presented the railway budget, there was a mention on harnessing solar power for Railways.
And now, the words are transformed as actions, as Indian Railways rolled out a non-AC coach of Rewari-Sitapur passenger train lit by solar panels installed on its roof.

Railways is planning to come out with a solar policy for procuring 1000 MW solar power in the next five years. The report in ET states that coaches of Shan-e-Punjab Express and Taj Express are also going to be equipped with solar power.

It cost about Rs 3.90 lac for equipping the non-AC coach of Rewari-Sitapur passenger train while the Railways will save Rs 1.24 lac per year in power cost.

Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach-solarpoweredtrains_stats.jpg
(stat courtesy: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome...pollution.html)

The solar panels generate about 17 units of power in a day which enables the lighting system in the coach. Currently Railways will be installing solar panels on non-AC coaches only.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/...w/47627403.cms
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Old 12th June 2015, 10:41   #2
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Default re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

This is wonderful news; it is heartening to see the Railways looking at alternate fuels and taking bold steps.

Not just will this save operational costs, it's quite a technological leap forward with immense future applications.
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Old 12th June 2015, 10:43   #3
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Default re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

This is part of the 2020 plan. We can see GOI's press release on this project here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelea...x?relid=122334
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Old 12th June 2015, 15:49   #4
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Appreciate the idea in principle. Thanks for sharing this information sarathlal.

Will the panels be maintained properly? Has Railways considered the maintenance cost?

A long distance train with 18 coaches collects a revenue of more than Rs. 20-25 crores in a year. Compare this with projected saving of Rs. 1.24 lakh per year and practical difficulties in maintenance. Does this make sense?
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Old 13th June 2015, 02:44   #5
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
A long distance train with 18 coaches collects a revenue of more than Rs. 20-25 crores in a year. Compare this with projected saving of Rs. 1.24 lakh per year and practical difficulties in maintenance. Does this make sense?
I hope the maintenance is done frequently. I believe this is just one of the plans to reduce fuel consumption and thus reduce the bills the railways pay for diesel. I understand the amount of savings is peanuts, but it adds up when you compare long term across all lines.

For a change we are seeing these sarkari behemoths get off their backsides and try something different. High time!

Maddy
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Old 13th June 2015, 09:01   #6
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
Appreciate the idea in principle. Thanks for sharing this information sarathlal.

Will the panels be maintained properly? Has Railways considered the maintenance cost?

A long distance train with 18 coaches collects a revenue of more than Rs. 20-25 crores in a year. Compare this with projected saving of Rs. 1.24 lakh per year and practical difficulties in maintenance. Does this make sense?
I think you have not considered the savings per coach multiplied by number of coaches -18 to 24. With that taken into account, the savings could be easily 25-30 lacs per train per year.

That is significant compared to Annual Revenue you have quoted.
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Old 13th June 2015, 10:27   #7
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

A great initiative and hope this becomes a trend setter and triggers a solar revolution in the country.When public sector companies start tapping unconventional energy sources, can the private sector stand aside? They would also be forced to adopt cleaner technologies.

Today developing countries are bogged down by pollution and what matters is not only the savings to a single company. The collective social benefits from such an initiative would be much larger, if others also follow suit.
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Old 13th June 2015, 11:11   #8
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
A long distance train with 18 coaches collects a revenue of more than Rs. 20-25 crores in a year. Compare this with projected saving of Rs. 1.24 lakh per year and practical difficulties in maintenance. Does this make sense?
Unless this is put into use as a pilot, we could never find out if it is viable. The life of a solar panel is ~25 years and if we assume the panels on coaches will last a quarter of the typical lifespan, say 6 years:

The savings per year per coach amount to Rs. 124,100. Over 6 years, this is Rs. 744,600. A savings of Rs. 354,600 over 6 years without factoring in maintenance costs and ignoring the steep installation price spent up front.
Cost-wise, at the end of life of the panels, even if the Railways are at break-even point this makes a lot of sense. Financial, environmental and sustainable sense.

The biggest expense is on the panels itself; as solar power is accepted and harnessed more and more, the production costs of the panels will fall and make solar power installations more economically viable.

The Government must be commended for this move which hopefully will result in far-reaching positive consequences for not just the Railways.

We must look at increasing our energy production by alternate renewable means; using solar, hydro-electric and wind energy among others. Not all regions in India have a lot of water and/or wind available. We do have abundant sunshine in India and this sort of pioneering approach especially from a Government organization is a change that is most welcome. We could (and should!) soon see this filter down to other Government agencies.

It is perhaps ironic for us petrolheads and diesel-diehards to be discussing renewable, alternate energy but let's face it, this is reality and this is the future.
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Old 14th June 2015, 12:20   #9
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

But why solar panel enable trains? Trains are moving objects & since the angle of rays will constantly change, the efficiency will be low, uncertain & prone to wear & tear.

It's more logical & feasible to first solar enable all the vast roofs of the train stations, this will be far more efficient.

Eg - in Belgium they are planning to power trains by putting panels on top of stations & tunnels.

http://www.euronews.com/2011/06/16/b...t-solar-train/

Also, see the concept of solar powered HSR being planned in USA.

http://inhabitat.com/transportation-...-bullet-train/

To my knowledge, nowhere have panels been put on the moving train itself due to inefficiencies. Will be happy to proved wrong though

Last edited by gsurya : 14th June 2015 at 12:33.
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Old 14th June 2015, 13:29   #10
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

But isn't the railways using the dynamo system at present. The train can harness the energy generated by the movement via dynamo in the batteries installed underneath the coaches.

The maintenance also is going to be poor, from what can be seen as having been done to the batteries installed. If you happen to board a local, you will find that when the train moves, the lights are bright, but as and when they stop, the lights go dim, or even die out. How will the maintenance be catered to is what comes to mind instantaneously.

Moreover, people in this part of India are used to jumping on to the roofs of the trains and travel. Will these solar panels be able to sustain that?
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Old 15th June 2015, 11:47   #11
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

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Originally Posted by gsurya View Post
But why solar panel enable trains? Trains are moving objects & since the angle of rays will constantly change, the efficiency will be low, uncertain & prone to wear & tear.
Solar panels don't need direct sun light. They just need light to work. Even on completely overcast days, they will generate electricity. As long as it's daytime it will work.

The station idea is also good, but the train will be pretty useful as well. Almost makes it like a hybrid train depending on how much energy can be generated.
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Old 15th June 2015, 12:09   #12
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Solar panels on top of coaches is an excellent idea. Some of the advantages that comes out are -

1. Solar panels are low maintenance hence will generate the ROI in the long term
2. They would cover the roof of the coach hence would eventually keep it cooler in the blistering summers
3. They could also be plugged to a platform/yard when not in use, adding it to the station grid
4. There would not be huge modifications in coaches as they already have batteries to store power
5. Sun rays are abundant in our country hence would work in most places where the train travels.
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Old 15th June 2015, 12:56   #13
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

Very good initiative, alternate and sustainable energy is the way to go forward.

Yes electrification of stations would have been more efficient since panels could be planned for maximum output, at larger scale (availability of space) and obviously lesser maintenance needs. The excess availability could be sent to the local grid which will take care of the needs of rural india as well as signalling needs and even train requirements.

Nevertheless its a good case study to have build on.
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Old 15th June 2015, 13:58   #14
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

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Originally Posted by Vid6639 View Post
Solar panels don't need direct sun light. They just need light to work. Even on completely overcast days, they will generate electricity. As long as it's daytime it will work.

The station idea is also good, but the train will be pretty useful as well. Almost makes it like a hybrid train depending on how much energy can be generated.
Solar panels can even be put in the arctic. There will be some sunlight some time in the year to generate electricity. Point is if it will be cost-effective enough..

If for the same dollar investment you can generate much more electricity, safely & reliably on stations, why would you put that dollar on this long shot?

Lets revisit this thread in an year to see if this initiative has made any progress. but anyone know how the bio-toilet initiative has come along?
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Old 15th June 2015, 15:30   #15
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Default Re: Indian Railways rolls out Solar-powered Coach

IMO, Too good but too late! Think about covering the super hot platform roofs (made of asbestos/cement sheets) with Solar panels. Depending upon the number of panels used, they can generate enough energy to power
1. Lights/Fan for entire platform.
2. the water coolers etc.
3. Power the water pump mechanism for entire station.
Added advantage is they prevent roof sheets from getting too hot. Huge savings, isn't it?
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