Solar Powered Train Market: Introduction
- Solar energy can be considered a major renewable source of energy. It can be used as a source of energy in trains.
- Solar powered trains are powered by placing photovoltaic panels close to or on rail lines. These photovoltaic panels are able to generate considerable amount of electricity that could trigger traction current to enable trains in moving forward.
- Train can quickly get recharged using electricity by a static solar panel at each stop, as it follows a straight and fixed route
- The idea of attaching solar panels to railway sleepers on roof is also gaining considerable traction in the industry, as it potentially allows for solar photovoltaic panels to work on long routes at relatively low costs
- The basic principle of solar powered train is to use energy stored in battery systems during and after charging it from roof mounted solar panels. The energy from charged storage batteries is used to drive the engine and move the train in forward direction.
- Development of solar powered train with onboard energy storage capability via solar and electrical energy offers significant reduction in energy consumption compared to conventional electrified train with an overhead power feeding system
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Key Drivers of Global Solar Powered Train Market
- Increase in concerns about carbon emission across the globe due to conventional railways and efficiency offered by this mode of transport is boosting the global solar powered train market
- Rail networks and infrastructure facilities in major cities across the world have expanded substantially over the years. Additionally, increase in investments made by numerous governments across the globe to develop railway infrastructure has created opportunities for train manufacturers to expand their geographical presence.
- Solar powered trains can provide several financial benefits to rail networks that are currently relying on grids. Lack of funds and rapid attainment of full capacity of grids are making it harder to generate electricity from renewable sources to power the railways.
- Rail freight has risen steadily over the past 20 years. It continues to rise in most countries, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Rail uses almost 90% less energy than trucks per unit of freight. Thus, rise in global rail freight is anticipated to propel the solar powered trains market during the forecast period.
- Increase in demand for energy across the globe has led to exploration of new sources of energy. This is likely to drive the global solar powered train market.
Restraints of Solar Powered Train Market
- Replacement of existing steam & diesel engines in trains powered by conventional fossil fuels with solar powered systems can be cost intensive, as systems need to be changed without affecting the operational hours. Furthermore, investment costs of these plants differ from one region to another, depending on solar intensity and its uniformity.
- Approximate cost of a solar panel is up to US$ 1,500 per kW capacity. However, the final price is calculated as per the panels and storage capacities required. Hence, the overall cost of solar panels is high. Lack of domestic production facilities of solar hardware units in many developing countries is one of the major reasons for the high cost of solar panels.
- Bankset Energy Corporation announced plans to install solar PV on railway sleepers across the globe. The company also revealed that the first installation took place in Switzerland and work is underway on projects in many countries such as Germany, the U.K., France, the U.S., China, and Italy. Furthermore, the company aims to install solar PV on railway sleepers in Austria and Spain.
- In July 2019, Riding Sunbeams collaborated with Network Rail to use solar panels to power trains in Southeast England in order to leverage renewable energy and reduce its carbon footprint. It also launched the first pilot scheme for solar powered trains.
- In July 2017, Indian Railways, under the concept ‘Make in India,’ launched the first solar powered DEMU (diesel electrical multiple unit) train from the Safdarjung railway station in Delhi. The train runs from Sarai Rohilla in Delhi to Farukh Nagar in Haryana. This train has total of 16 solar panels, with combined capacity of 4800 Wp, all these panels are fitted in six coaches.
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Asia Pacific to Offer Growth Opportunities to Solar Powered Train Market
- Based on region, the global solar powered train market can be divided into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa
- Asia Pacific is likely to dominate the market, as it possess a strong rail network, especially in countries such as China and India
- The route network of Indian Railways is spread over 115,000 km, with 12,617 passenger trains and 7,421 freight trains running each day from 7,349 stations plying 23 million travelers and 3 million tons (MT) of freight daily. Furthermore, India's railway network is recognized as one of the largest railway systems in the world under single management.
- Rapid growth in economy in China is encouraging the train network to improve transport systems in the country and make them more ecofriendly. Use of solar powered trains for large scale run could be a major breakthrough.
Key Players Operating in Global Solar Powered Train Market
Major players operating in the global solar powered train market include:
- Bankset Energy
- Riding Sunbeams
- Byron Bay Railroad Company
- Jakson Engineers Limited
- Central Electronics Limited (CEL)
- LG Electronics
- Canadian Solar
- Hyundai Energy Solutions
- Hanwha S&C
- Trina Solar
- SunPower Corporation
- Axitec LLC
- Kyocera Corporation