Can wind from moving train generate power? PMO’s curious query to Railways

Rail Bhawan officials said that the idea was not workable and they would communicate this to the PMO.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Published:September 15, 2014 3:02 am
train-L Experts have dismissed the idea of windmills being installed along railway tracks to produce electricity, utilising the wind generated by fast moving trains. (Source: File photo)

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sent the Railways Ministry into a tizzy over an idea it received from an 81-year-old resident of Gujarat —  that windmills be installed along railway tracks to produce electricity, utilising the wind generated by fast moving trains.
Vipin Trivedi of Ahmedabad, a former employee of Bank of Baroda’s Agriculture and Rural Development wing who retired in 1991, sent the idea by post to the PMO. The PMO, in turn, forwarded it to the Railways Ministry, asking it to explore the “techno-economic” feasibility of the idea, and sought regular updates.

Since the idea came from the PMO, Rail Bhawan officials started serious communication with Trivedi, but also politely told him that it did not sound doable. As per documents accessed by The Indian Express, Railways said Trivedi could be called in the future to give more technical details about his idea. Trivedi is waiting.

“One day, I was travelling by train and the idea just struck me. So I discussed it with my gurubhai (disciples of a godman) who knew a man who had worked closely with Narendrabhai (Modi) in overhauling Gujarat’s power sector. That man is now posted as the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM in Delhi. So I sent the idea to him by post,” Trivedi told The Indian Express from the Nandigram Ashram in Bharuch last week, where he was attending a course on “spiritual wellbeing”. “If they call me to Delhi, they should be willing to seriously discuss the idea,” he said.

Although nobody in the ministry was convinced about Trivedi’s idea, top Rail Bhawan officials have been applying their time and energy, keeping the Chairman, Railway Board, informed as well.

“A train will pass the windmill in less than 20 seconds. Even if there is a train every 15 minutes, a windmill can operate for only 25 minutes per day. This will not be viable economically. Further, the energy produced by the windmills would have to come from the trains only, which will consume extra energy,” said a mail Trivedi received from the ministry on September 1.

The email exchange has been regular. Another email sent a few days before that said, “We will, however, like to have some more technical details with regard to your suggestion, which may be sent to us for further detailed examination.”

Rail Bhawan officials told The Indian Express that the idea was not workable and they would communicate this to the PMO. “There is nothing wrong with anyone in the country coming up with any new idea. It is our job to take them seriously and see if they can be executed,” said a senior ministry official.

When contacted, Prof Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad, an expert in alternative sources of energy, told The Indian Express, “This is not a practicable idea. Especially with Railways, it will not work at all because of the frequency of trains and the cost of the windmill, the transmission and distribution of power would all work against it. The amount of power generated would also be unfeasible.”

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  1. L
    László Ginter
    Nov 1, 2016 at 6:10 pm
    Yes
    Reply
    1. A
      Ayush Rai
      Sep 4, 2016 at 5:10 pm
      I know that construction of windmill is so high but if we construct it on trains it generates a huge amount of energy and save a lot of energy because it requires more than 15 km/hr wind to rotate its turbine and trains run more than 85 km/hr speed . And it this way we save a lot of energy and it is also a great acchivement for Indian railway and govt also .
      Reply
      1. P
        prabal
        Jan 23, 2015 at 5:55 am
        but what if we put the mill not on the top but along the sides of train,by doing this mill will move and the air friction is also get reduce.....along the side corner of trainon the top mill can be used while stoping the train,it will produce the friction to stop as well as energy also gets generated....
        Reply
        1. P
          prabal
          Jan 23, 2015 at 5:55 am
          but what if we put the mill not on the top but along the sides of train,by doing this mill will move and the air friction is also get reduce.....along the side corner of trainon the top mill can be used while stoping the train,it will produce the friction to stop as well as energy also gets generated....
          Reply
          1. K
            Keshav Gokhale
            Feb 28, 2015 at 12:25 am
            yCAUZpGHiM vCvg E0o59ftg k4m1MLZudE vCvg
            Reply
            1. A
              Arun
              Jul 13, 2015 at 6:07 am
              Actually I think we can produce 1480000MW electricity from Railway.but the Mr.Trevedi is not but to install turbine in Railway and the wind should p to turbine and by the pressure of the wind fan will be rotate and generated electric can be used to Run the railway and balance may be transfer to substation.work on this already in progress in Delhi metro train by engineering student of Delhi.I have guarantee that this will success and only Govt.should provide funds to do trails and reaserch.
              Reply
              1. M
                Maulin
                Jul 20, 2015 at 12:11 am
                yeah that is the way to harvest wind energy which this produce due to the train's motion.I am also an engineering graduate this question is generated in my mind that why I am here. I like it and i like to join this research work please provide me contact of those student If possible.
                Reply
                1. K
                  kaku
                  Jan 26, 2015 at 8:17 pm
                  are you serious... did you actually said harvesting lightening??
                  Reply
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