India Railways is embracing new technology to help them save money and the environment. They recently debuted a train powered by solar panels fitted along its roof. It is the first train of its kind in India.
The solar panels will be used to power all of the train’s electrical needs. That includes the lighting, cooling system, and informational displays inside the passenger compartments of the train. It also features a battery bank to ensure there will be enough power even on cloudy days and during the nighttime.
This is part of a series of steps that India Railways is taking to become more environmentally friendly. Other methods they are using include water recycling, bio-toilets, and wind energy. They plan to continue increasing their use of alternative energy sources in order to cut back on the large amount of diesel typically used by their trains.
The locomotive that pulls the solar train will still be using diesel as its power source, but the other applications normally powered by diesel will instead be powered using the solar panels. The solar powered train is expected to save approximately 21,000 liters of diesel. That will amount to financial savings of ₹12 lakh each year.
That is still only a drop in the bucket for a company that uses around 2.6 billion liters of diesel in a year, but the reduction in diesel will increase as they continue to add more trains to their solar lineup. India Railways plans to generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020.