Indian Railways Plans to Source 1 GW of Solar, 200 MW of Wind Power by 2021-22

South Central Railways has also declared the first solar section


Indian Railways is planning to source approximately 1,000 MW of solar power and nearly 200 MW of wind power by 2021-22 across zonal railways and production units.

Out of the 1 GW of solar projects, the ministry plans to install 500 MW on the rooftop of railway buildings while the remaining 500 MW will be used to meet both traction and non-traction requirements, according to a statement by the government.

In a move to conserve energy, the South Central Railways has also installed solar panels at stations and service buildings across the zone.

The Indian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity, with about a 2% share of the national energy consumption.

“Taking this step to the next level, for the first time, all the stations in a particular section of the South Central Railways have been provided with solar panels at one stretch to tap the natural energy. This will not only help in meeting the power needs of all the stations in the section but also save expenditure for the Railways,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, Nandyal – Yerraguntla section in the Guntakal division has been declared as the first solar section in South Central Railways.

Nandyal – Yerraguntla section is a new railway line laid by the Railways, and it opened for passenger traffic in the year 2016 to bring the hinterland onto the rail map. All the eight stations in the section have been provided with solar panels that are capable of meeting all the power needs at these railway stations.

To make use of solar power, 37 kW of off-grid rooftop solar projects along with 250/125 Wp of solar panels have been used in each station.  Also, inverters and battery banks have been installed. The total connected load on solar projects is on an average of 30 kW. In total, 152 solar panels have been installed at these stations. With an average exposure of eight sunny hours per day, 148 KWh energy units can be generated throughout the year resulting in an energy generation of 54,020 units. With this, the ministry has anticipated that it can save around ₹500,000 (~$7,039)/year.

“It also helps in reducing carbon footprint to the tune of 49 metric tons per annum, contributing towards a greener environment,” the statement said.

Almost 16 stations have already been declared as ‘Green Railway’ stations across the Indian Railways that are meeting their energy needs either through solar or wind power. These stations are Roha, Pen, Apta in Central Railway, Niamatpur halt, Kanhaipur halt, Teka Bigha halt, Mai halt, Garsanda halt, Niyazipur halt, Dhamaraghat in East Central Railway, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Shimla in Northern Railway, Unhel, Khanderi, Bajud, Ambli Road, Sadanapura & Sachin in Western Railway – are 100% green-powered stations.

Interestingly, the IRCON International Limited (IRCON), has recently invited an expression of interest from specialist construction contractors to associate with IRCON for its upcoming projects. IRCON is a specialized construction organization under the Ministry of Railways covering the entire spectrum of construction activities and services in the infrastructure sector.

In October 2019, Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL), a joint venture between the Indian Railways and RITES Limited, had issued a tender to procure power from wind-solar hybrid projects.

Image credit: Piyush Sharma [CC BY-SA]