India is building solar powered commuter trains to cut down on carbon emissions

india rooftop solar powered train
123RF/DenysBilytskyi
As the cost of solar technologies continues to drop, more companies are beginning to explore clean energy sources in an effort to curb costs. Indian Railways, the largest rail network in Asia, has unveiled its first train equipped with a series of rooftop solar panels to cut emissions and minimize fuel consumption.

The state-run locomotive system displayed the train, known as the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU), on July 14. While the unit, and others like it, will still be pulled by a diesel-powered locomotive, the new rooftop solar panels will power the onboard lights, fans, and information display systems within the passenger coaches. These solar panels will replace the diesel generators on each coach. The DEMU was designed by Noida-based Jakson Engineers, under the guidance of the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF).

Indian Railways plans to retrofit a fleet of existing trains, each with 16 solar panels to replace the diesel generators traditionally used to power the coach amenities and appliances. Based on current projections, six solar powered coaches alone could potentially save Indian Railways roughly 21,000 liters of diesel and almost $20,000 annually. The company plans to use the first DEMU on the suburban railway network in New Delhi. Once fully implemented, the company believes this program will save it more than $6 billion over the next decade.

Indian Railways operates roughly 11,000 trains each day, and spends nearly $2.5 billion annually on diesel alone (or roughly 70 percent of its total fuel expenditures). With these massive figures in mind, the company has an ambitious plan to incorporate solar power to its locomotive network. By the end of the decade, Indian Railways hopes to produce nearly 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power and boost this total to 5,000 MW by 2025.

That said, the company certainly has some work to do if it plans to meet these lofty clean energy targets. The company has only installed roughly 16 MW of solar capacity at the moment. However, there are plans to create nearly 255 MW of additional rooftop solar capacity and another 250 MW of land-based solar power in the future. With one of the largest rail operators on the planet taking a major step towards clean energy, we can only hope other companies will follow suit.

Emerging Tech

Virginia Tech beats out competition, wins smart home Solar Decathlon

Modular smart homes are all the rage and now some students from Virginia Tech have won a major competition in Dubai with their Futurehaus, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!