India Is Retrofitting Its Trains With Solar Panels To Get Off Diesel

India Is Retrofitting Its Trains With Solar Panels To Get Off Diesel

india solar train railway
Image courtesy of Anil Kumar Chhatri, Indian Railways

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India’s rail system is as massive as it is dirty – the trains are powered by diesel. But India, whose commitment to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels has been incredible, sees solar as a solution.

Indian Railways began running its first solar-powered train on July 14th. The panels, situated atop the trains themselves, will power lights, fans, and other electrical devices inside of the passenger coach trains.

The solar panels won’t be powerful enough to actually move the trains; they’ll still be pulled by a diesel-powered locomotive. But by installing sets of 16 solar panels atop each coach train, they’ll reduce the amount of diesel the trains use by 21,000 liters per year.

The first train has been put to use in the suburbs of New Delhi, one of the more polluted cities on Earth.

This is a small step for Indian Railways, but they have bigger plans ahead for solar. By 2020, the transportation authority intends to generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power; 5,000 megawatts by 2025. This will be a considerable chunk of India’s renewable energy goal of 175 gigwatts by 2022.

So far, Indian Railways has installed only 16 megawatts of its 5,000 megawatt goals, currently falling extremely short. But more solar is in the works. With any luck, they’ll reach their goals.

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