IIT-Madras to study Solar powered Rail Coaches

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras will soon be carrying out a feasibility study on setting up solar panels to generate electricity to non-air conditioned Indian Railway coaches.

The project, mooted by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) soon after it got national award for energy conservation recently, will be implemented based on the study’s outcome.

“The power generated from the solar panel will be used for lights and fans in non-air conditioned coaches”, ICF spokesperson G Subramanian told.

The official said that the aim of the ambitious project is to use latest technology to tap alternative sources of energy to reduce dependence on fuel based energy.

He said the feasibility study would also examine if the solar panel needs to be fixed atop the coach’s roof.

“The survey will come out with various solutions regarding the height of the solar panel so that it is not hit by tunnels and over-bridges”, he said.

Stating that an agreement was signed few months back with IIT, Subramanian said that officials from both the sides are discussing to work out different modalities to develop a feasible model.

According to him, powering lights and fans of a coach efficiently using solar energy will be an enormous challenge as trains run across different climate zones during a single trip often leading to the failure from insufficient power.

If the project is successful, about 60 per cent of energy will be saved by the railways. The new technology will be incorporated in the coaches designed by ICF.

However, ICF sources said that it has not fixed a timeframe to complete the project. ICF has already turned to renewable energy to meet its needs and has set up a few wind mills to generate power in the southern districts of the state. The power is now being supplied to the grid.

Indian rail network comprises more than 1,15,000 km of track over a route of 68,000 km and about 8,000 stations.