The Indian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity with roughly 2 percent share of national energy consumption and it is gradually turning towards green initiatives for electrification as well as decarbonization.
Solar panels at rooftops of 78 railway stations across Kerala have been planned based on feasibility at the stations. For example, At Kannur, work for 100 kW solar project is in progress. Southern Railway has fixed solar panels at two railway stations across Kerala: at Thalassery of 3 kW and at Parli station of 2 kW capacity.
The details of these initiatives were shared by Rajen Gohain, Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways in the Lok Sabha. Replying to another question, Gohain stated, “Indian Railways has provided solar panels on rooftop of 19 narrow gauge (Northern Railway) and three broad gauge non-air-conditioned coaches in service (one each by Northern Railway, West Central Railway & Southern Railway) for use of electrical energy in train lighting system, on trial basis.”
“Further, Railways has taken decision to provide solar panel on rooftop of general coaches of two day-running intercity trains in Northern and Southern Railway and 50 percent narrow gauge coaches plying on Pathankot – Joginder Nagar route in Kangra Valley section and Kalka-Shimla section of Northern Railway for conducting extended trials for one year in all weather conditions. In addition, solar panels have been provided on six non-AC trailer coaches of Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU),” added Gohain in his reply.
Indian Railways is working on all fronts to reduce its carbon footprint. Mercom previously reported that the Railways will soon launch tenders to set up large-scale solar power projects, inching closer towards its overall solar power target of 5 GW. The 5 GW capacity will consist of utility-scale and rooftop solar power projects.”
In October 2017, the Indian Railways awarded a total of 30 MW of rooftop solar contracts to Azure Power (20 MW) and Fourth Partner Energy (10 MW).
In August 2017, Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL) successfully auctioned 67.38 MW of rooftop solar projects for the Indian Railways.
In April 2017, the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuel, an Indian Railways entity, and Bharat Heavy Electricals entered into an agreement to develop a 2 MW solar rooftop project in the city of Patiala in southeastern Punjab.
In March 2017, Azure Power won bids to develop 46 MW of rooftop solar for the Indian Railways.
In September 2017, ABB India announced it would be providing solar inverters to support rooftop solar systems installations in 750 railway stations in the northern part of India in partnership with Azure Power.
In June 2018, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had said, “Indian Railways is going green in a big way and plans to become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030.”
Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.