Monthly Archives: August 2013


Trains are an interesting and environmentally-friendly way to travel. In hot and crowded countries like India, however, comfort might be a poor adjective to describe the experience of the average train passenger. But Indian Railways, a government owned and operated rail network, recently announced that it would be tapping the power of the sun to make traveling in its coach cars a more palatable experience. A partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology will allow the installation of solar harvesting equipment that will supply enough electricity for on-board air conditioning, as well as more efficient internal lighting.

India is a hot and crowded country, and its railway cars are no exception. According to the Times of India, the railways anticipate a huge demand for air conditioned coaches in the coming years (ahem, climate change) and diesel generators leave much to be desired, especially in the way of price.

“We have asked IIT Madras to find ways to tap solar power and use it for interior lighting and air conditioning. An MoU was signed a month ago. We have started preliminary discussions with professors to work out different modalities to develop a feasible model to use solar power in running trains,” a senior Integral Coach Factory official told the Times.

While it seems like a brilliant idea, trains and solar power aren’t something we’ve seen successfully combined that often. We’ve seen solar-powered train stations and even solar panels on train bridges, but on the train itself? If IIT is able to pull it off, it will be a huge leap forward for the rail industry.

“The concept of solar-powered air conditioners will be extremely beneficial to the train industry. Larger railways that take passengers through multiple climates will benefit the most from this technology. There have been many instances of current air conditioning methods failing, sometimes when they are in tortuous heat.

Read more: Solar-Powered Air Conditioning Coming Soon To Indian Railways Coach Cars! | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Indian state of Gujarat planning India’s first geothermal power plant

Indian news report that India is planning to establish a geothermal energy policy to streamline and expedite projects in the country. The State of Gujarat now has made a pitch to set up the first geothermal energy plant at a recent international conference at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU).

Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are the few states which plan to set up projects with capacities of 3-5 MW. All these projects involve companies like ONGC, Mitsubishi and NTPC.

“We are proactive on the geothermal front. A draft policy on geothermal energy is ready,” R N Sawant, director (geothermal & biomass power) at the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The Gujarat government’s pitch for a green energy hub was emphasised by D J Pandian, principal secretary at the state’s energy and petrochemicals department, who said PDPU, which is already conducting research on the subject of geothermal energy, should set up the country’s first demonstration project of 1 MW capacity in Gujarat.

“If Gujarat has power generation capacity of 27,000 MW, why can’t it be the first to set up a geothermal project?” Pandian told the gathering. PDPU has completed pre-feasibility studies for the entire Gujarat and has identified five geothermal regions where this energy can be tapped.

Sawant said many players had already signed memorandum of understanding for geothermal projects in the country, which is said to have a geothermal potential of 10,000 MW. Geothermal projects harness the intense heat in molten rocks under the earth’s crust for electricity generation and domestic heating.

The capital cost of installing one MW of geothermal energy works out to be between Rs 16-20 crore. The government is also in the process of appointing or forming an agency to take care of the exploration of geothermal resources that have been declared “as a national resource”.