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Posted on July 24, 2017

India launches solar powered passenger comfort systems for trains

High Power Energy Harvesting:
India's Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has announced the nation's first 1600 HP DEMU (Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit) train with solar powered coaches. The entire electrical need of the coaches for lighting, fans and information displays will be met from the solar energy produced from the solar panels fitted in the roofs of coaches. While this train has been manufactured by the Coach Factory of Indian Railways namely Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, its solar panels and solar systems have been developed and fitted by Indian Railways Organisation of Alternative Fuel (IROAF) Delhi. This first coach has been commissioned and based at Shakurbasti DEMU shed in Delhi, Northern Railway. Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next 6 months.
 
Speaking at the launch, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that "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." 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 plantations, bio-toilets, water-recycling, waste disposal, using bio-fuel, wind energy etc.
 
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Normally, DEMU trains provide power for its passenger comfort systems - lights and fans - from a diesel driven generator fitted on its Driving Power Car (DPC). IROAF 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 train with 8 trailer coaches will increase proportionately. These benefits will continue for the entire 25 years life time of train. This will help in making DEMU commuter services better, more economical and environmentally friendly.
 
The solar lighting and fan system fitted on each coach is of 4.5 KWp capacity consisting of 16 Solar Panels of 300Wp each. This is adequate to power the fans and lights of the coach. The system is capable of developing up to 20 kWh per day (average) throughout the year. Surplus power generated during peak hours is stored in a 120 AH battery system. The system uses a data acquisition system and interfaces with the existing hotel load power system of DEMU train. It will help in generating useful data for research for adapting the system for future rollout on all trains of IR. The system costs about Rs. 9 lakhs per coach at prototype stage.
 
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Northern Railway launched the first DEMU service on Indian Railways in 1994. Today, NR has 3 DEMU sheds having highest DEMU holding on Indian Railways. Shakurbasti DEMU shed of Northern Railway has been a pioneer in the field of green powered DEMUs - CNG & Solar powered. The very first CNG fitted DEMUs were run by Shakurbasti. Now the first solar panel powered DEMU train will also be maintained and operated by DEMU shed, Shakurbasti of Northern Railway. This pioneering effort makes a transition towards clean energy and reduction in the carbon emission.
 
Source: Ministry of Railways, India
Top image: Northern Railway
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