Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu made an announcement on Sunday whilst at the same time laying the first stone of the foundation at the Amritsar Railway Station for a 1 MwT solar power plant.
According to the Minister, these plans which are set to be implemented in the near future include the installation of solar panels on buildings of all railway stations nationwide.
The new solar power plant, which is expected to cost in the region of Rs 8 crores, is set to produce 14 lakh units of power per annum, thus saving the railways Rs.1.40 crore. Furthermore, as the Minister indicated in his speech, the government plans to utilize waste materials to produce solar energy, thus drastically cutting down on the railway’s electricity costs and enhancing passenger travel facilities instead.
The Minister also made reference to the successful testing carried out recently which enabled a train to run at speeds of up to 180 km/h, which sets grounds for initiating a high speed train launch to service between Amritsar and New Delhi. A prototype solar energy-enabled power system, whereby the entire train would be equipped with solar panels, was to be used for the trial. The train was pulled by diesel-run conventional engines whilst solar panels accounted for the entirety of internal electricity for both lighting and fanning.
Additionally, the Minister expressed regret over the delay in the laying of the Amritsar-Patti route, yet maintained hope that the project works will still be able to launch relatively soon, so long as they are supported by the State government efforts.
As per recent studies, trains which utilize solar power, are able to reduce consumption of diesel by as much as 90,000 litres per year while at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emission by more than 200 tonnes during the same period.
Currently, the Indian Railways are focusing on alternative sources of fuels, having already set up trials for CNG natural gas and biodiesel as potential alternatives for future use.
CNG is currently being used on local trains in the Rohtak-Rewari section at the Delhi Division. This dual-fuel concept of CNG and diesel utilization is both a fuel and money saving exercise and is hoped to represent the shape of things to come in terms of India’s energy future.