The first non-AC coaches retrofitted with flexible solar photovoltaic panels on its roof to operate fans, lights and mobile charging points were unveiled by Indian Railways on Tuesday.
This effort is seen as an alternative taken by railways for Alternate Fuels (IROAF). The first set of coaches were inaugurated by Ravindra Gupta, member (rolling stock) of the railway board. By fitting solar panels, the railways can save Rs 3 crore over the 25-year life of the coaches apart from massive carbon dioxide reduction.
According to an official statement, solar energy can also be harnessed in mainline coaches of passenger trains in case the alternators are unable to charge the batteries due to slow running.
This had prompted Gupta to instructed IROAF to fit solar panels on four trains that face the problem. Fitting solar panels has commenced on Sitapur-Rewari passenger trains. “It is expected that each coach will generate between 15 to 20 units (kwh) of electricity per day,” the statement said. IROAF plans to fit solar panels on 250 trailer coaches on DEMU and passenger trains with panels to be fitted on three more passenger trains such as those running between Varanasi and Lucknow.