Trains are the most efficient mode of transportation we have. Despite carrying 9% of global passengers and 7% of global cargo, they make up just 3% of global transportation energy use.
Around the world, about 75% of trains are electrified with the rest running on diesel. This makes them the right candidate to run on complete clean energy without significant investments in overhauling the infrastructure.
But what would it take to do that?
In 2017, Australia ran the world’s first 100% solar-powered train fitted with a 6.5kW system on top of its two coaches. The battery capacity, at 77 kWh, was similar to a high-end Tesla Model 3 and could allow the train 6–7 round trips on its 3 km track. There is also a 30kW solar system at the station to charge the battery.
However, the train had quite some metrics to reach. Built with an investment of ~6 million AUD, the train needs 350 round trips a day to remain viable. But given the limited schedule between the daylight hours, this is a stretch. India has also had rooftop solar trains, but only to power lights and the likes within the train.
Therefore, it is still a distant reality to have 100% of rooftop solar-powered trains for the masses. Read more…