BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has adopted a green energy policy after realising that most generators used on its wagons were old and frequently broke down, while spare parts were difficult to get.
The parastatal said the installation of solar panels on its wagons will allow crews on cross-trippers to have energy throughout the year without fear of
breakdowns. It will also cut down on costs of buying diesel to run the generators.
The company’s workshops engineer, Vincent Ndlela, was quoted in the company’s newsletter saying the idea to install solar panels came after realising that most generators used
on cabooses were old, frequently breaking down while spare parts were difficult to get.
“Each caboose has a generator, but these have become obsolete. If there is a breakdown at night, crews will be stuck while waiting for a technician to come and repair it,” he said.
Ndlela said tests conducted on the caboose fitted with solar panels had been successful and they were now waiting for funds to roll out the project to all cabooses.
The panels on each caboose can provide enough power to run a refrigerator, lighting, fan, television and microwave oven.
NRZ engaged Solar Tech Africa for the implementation of the pilot project.
“The installation of solar power on cabooses should be good news for crews on cross-trippers, which operate 24 hours a day, as they were assured of energy all the time,” the newsletter read in part.
Ndlela said there had been instances in the past when crews were left in darkness after generators failed.
However, this is now a thing of the past because the caboose will use solar power during the day and battery back-up at night, which require zero maintenance.
Cabooses provide resting quarters for crews on cross-trippers while either waiting to start duty or after knocking off. It is also where crew meals are prepared.
This allows the train to operate without stopping until it has reached its destination.
Ndlela said the solar power project will cost a total of $64 000 for the eight cabooses earmarked to be fitted with the solar panels.
He said plans were also underway to replace coal stoves on the cabooses with gas stoves.