Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bangalore scientists plan solar panels on train roofs

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, July 25, 2014, DHNS:
Power generated may save Rs 59 lakh per train every year

The solar photovoltaic cell panels mounted on every compartment would generate energy to take care of that compartment's electrical load. The surplus energy can be stored in a battery for use at night. DH photo
Thinking out of the box, scientists in Bangalore have come up with the idea to install solar panels on the roofs of long-distance trains to generate electricity and lighten the power load of the Railways.

The solar photovoltaic cell panels mounted on every compartment would generate energy to take care of that compartment's electrical load. The surplus energy can be stored in a battery for use at night.

The electricity produced by the PV cells is far in excess of the consumption by a rake, claimed Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers, who worked out the economics behind the innovative proposal.

The calculations were made taking into account a 40-hour journey over 1,800 km by a train, comprising 19 Linke Hofman Busch (LHB) coaches that have longer span-length to accommodate more passengers and provide superior travelling comfort.

The electricity generated from the solar cells could reduce diesel consumption by 9.08 lakh litres per rake, and contribute to saving of Rs 59 lakh every year for each train.

The installation cost of the modules would be recovered in 2-3 years. “The proposal has been examined by the chief administrator of the Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels.

There is probably a chance for us to try it out as we have entrepreneurs and engineers who are willing to work with us for a pilot project,” Sheela K Ramasesha, one of the scientists who came up with the idea, told Deccan Herald. Other members in the team are M Shravanth Vasisht, C Vishal and J Srinivasan.

An LHB rake consists of two power cars at either end. Even if half the PV panels are under shade, enough power can be generated to meet the lighting load requirements. As a result, one power car can be put into service and the other could be used as a standby.

Since both power cars have a diesel tank with a capacity of 3,000 litres each, not using one of them would lead to substantial reduction in diesel consumption.

There are, however, a number of challenges to be overcome for the realisation of this ambitious plan. “A major challenge would be the mounting techniques. The net weight on the rail coach due to this type of solar panels would not be greater than 200 kg,” she said.

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