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© CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images
© CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

India is one of the three largest climate sinners in the world — nevertheless or for that very reason, it is worthwhile taking a closer look at it. Because the government is driving forward implementation of the Paris climate agreement at home with ambitious targets. The State rail operator, Indian Railway, embarked on a major offensive at the beginning of July, and sent the first diesel electric train with solar modules on the roof on its maiden voyage.

Saving CO2 emissions by the tonne

The train is no expensive new development and it is still powered by a diesel engine. But the total of 6 carriages have each been fitted with 16 photovoltaic panels boasting an output of 20 kilowatts. The 7,200 kilowatt hours generated every year are to be used to power the lighting, cooling and passenger information displays on the train. Excess energy is stored with the aid of batteries which kick in whenever direct sunlight is unavailable. In this way, the rail company will be able to save around 21,000 litres of diesel and nine tonnes of carbon dioxide a year with one solar train. This solution shows that environmentally-friendly ideas can also be put into practice by simple means.

India’s Minister for the Railways, Suresh Prabhu, has announced that 24 further carriages will be converted to the new technology this year. And rail operations are set to produce around 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity in the next five years. The roofs of the stations are also being fitted with solar modules throughout the country. In doing so, Indian Railway intends to live up to its objective announced in 2015 to generate around one gigawatt of solar power itself by 2020. Greater use is also to be made of biofuels such as wind energy and hydropower.