Chennai: The Integral Coach Factory’s (ICF) trials, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, with solar powered coaches have been successful, but has now thrown open another weighty challenge.
The solar panels, while generating enough electricity to power a non-air-conditioned coach, are also creating a problem of adding to the deadweight of the coach. This means that coaches with the panels will have to be redesigned and engineered to ensure that the weight of the coach does not go up.
“We have received the report from IISc. We are taking a further call on it. The solar panels, however, add to the weight of the coach. Some framework is required to mount the panel on the roof. Without adding extra weight, we have to see how to bring power to the coach,” an ICF official told.
In June, the Railways rolled out its first solar panel-enabled coach that generated about 17 units of power in a day to enable the lighting system in the coach on the Rewari-Sitapur passenger train. The department has plans to generate about 1,000 MW in the next five years. Through this plan, the Railways hopes to reduce the amount of electricity it draws from the grid.
However, mass production of solar powered coaches will be viable when the issue of the deadweight is solved. “We can have batteries to store the solar power generated during the day, but that will require a large number of batteries which will once again add to the deadweight,” the official pointed out. “The panels can be embedded on the roof itself. But, it will require extensive design change in the roof. A commercially viable solution is required,” the official added.
Some framework is required to mount the panel on the roof