In a bid to further ambitious plans of harnessing sunlight for public transport, one of the largest railway networks in the world is conducting a trial run of its first solar panel-powered train.
The Indian Railways train will run a passenger route in Jodhpur, Rajasthan at the end of the month, and forms part of a nationwide initiative to utilise alternative means of energy.
Solar panels will provide all the internal electricity needed for lights and fans on the carriages, but the train would still be pulled by conventional diesel-run engines – for now.
Trains using solar power for lighting alone can reduce diesel consumption up to 90,000 litres per year and reduce emissions by 200 tonnes, according to studies.
The Indian state-owned enterprise is also working on alternatives to fuel, and it has conducted various trials on natural gases and biodiesel solutions across the country.
In the Rohtak-Rewari section of Delhi local trains are already using high-pressured methane gas which is helping to reduce costs and save on fuel.
Presumably, their eventual goal is to develop trains entirely powered by solar panels, although electric engines would need extensive overhead wiring.
Indian Railways is the fourth largest rail network in the world. It has recently pledged to generate 1,000 mw of solar power over the next five years.
Installation of solar plants amid railway rooftops and level crossings has already started.
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