Indian Railways, the country’s largest consumer of electricity, has set an ambitious goal of becoming a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030. The initiative was announced emphasising the importance of industry participation and collective efforts in achieving this common goal. With plans to expand its presence in the solar sector and harness clean power, Indian Railways aims to transform itself into the newest, finest, and safest railway system in the world.
Indian Railways, being aware of its significant contribution to the nation’s energy consumption, accounting for approximately 2 per cent of the total, is actively pursuing a clean energy transition. Recognising the environmental challenges posed by its energy consumption, the company has taken significant steps towards reducing its carbon footprint by adopting renewable sources of power.
Solar Projects on the Rise
Indian Railways has made remarkable progress in integrating solar power into its infrastructure. As a testament to its commitment to renewable energy, the company commissioned a 5 MW solar power project across several railway stations in New Delhi. These solar installations on the rooftops of Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Anand Vihar, and Delhi railway stations serve as shining examples of Indian Railways’ dedication to clean energy. By embracing solar power, the company has not only reduced its reliance on fossil fuels but also showcased the feasibility and benefits of renewable energy adoption in the transportation sector.
Furthermore, Indian Railways has set its sights on establishing large-scale solar power projects, both on rooftops and ground-mount installations, as part of its ambitious target of achieving 5 GW of solar capacity. By capitalising on the available infrastructure and space, Indian Railways can tap into the immense potential of solar energy and contribute significantly to the country’s renewable energy goals. These solar projects will not only help reduce carbon emissions but also create a sustainable source of power for the railway network.
As part of its commitment to sustainability, the Kolkata Metro has recently taken significant steps towards integrating solar power into its network. The installation of solar power plants on rooftops at various locations within its network has become a cornerstone of the metro railway’s clean energy strategy. At present, the Kolkata Metro generates an impressive 2189.50 Kwp of solar power. This includes the installation of 657 Kwp solar power plants along the North-South Corridor, 1519 Kwp solar power plants along the East-West Corridor, and an additional 13.5 Kwp solar plants at Tapan Sinha Memorial Hospital of the Metro Railway.
The solar power plants have proven to be immensely beneficial for the Kolkata Metro. These projects have been executed through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, where the metro railway authorities provide the rooftop areas, while the solar power developer takes charge of the complete design, procurement, installation, testing, and commissioning work. The operation and maintenance of these plants are handled by the solar power developers themselves. To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, the solar power generation system of the Metro Railway is monitored through a cloud-based monitoring system. External computers and smart devices analyze the plants’ performance using built-in meters and data loggers, providing valuable insights for ongoing maintenance and improvements.
Looking ahead, the Kolkata Metro has ambitious plans for future solar power generation. In the fiscal year 2023-24, the metro has set a target to raise the solar power capacity by an additional 2792 Kwp. This expansion includes the installation of a 500 Kwp capacity plant at the Stabling Bay Line Workshop at Central Park Depot, a 92 Kwp capacity plant at Belgachia, a substantial 1400 Kwp capacity plant at Joka Depot, and an 800 Kwp capacity plant at Kavi Subhash Carshed. Furthermore, a proposal has been made for the construction of a 654 Kwp capacity solar power generation plant at Jessore Road station.
Setting up a 1 GW Solar Power Park
Indian Railways has set its sights on establishing a massive 1 GW solar power park in the state of Madhya Pradesh. This ambitious endeavour is a testament to the company’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainability. The Rewa Solar Park, renowned for its attractive tariff rates and favourable solar conditions, has captured the attention of Indian Railways as an ideal location for this groundbreaking project.
A solar power park of this magnitude will not only provide clean energy to power the railway system but also showcase India’s dedication to renewable energy on an international scale. By harnessing the abundant solar resources available in Madhya Pradesh, Indian Railways will have the capacity to generate a substantial amount of electricity and significantly reduce its carbon footprint. The establishment of this solar power park will serve as a shining example of India’s commitment to clean energy and act as a catalyst for further solar power developments within the country.
Through the widespread adoption of solar power, Indian Railways aims to achieve energy self-sufficiency and reduce its reliance on conventional energy sources. By integrating solar energy into its operations, the railway system will not only contribute to a greener environment but also yield substantial cost savings in the long run. Solar power, once installed, provides a consistent and reliable source of energy, minimizing the volatility of energy prices and reducing the company’s vulnerability to price fluctuations in the fossil fuel market.
Moreover, the surplus energy generated by the railway system can be fed back into the grid, bolstering the overall energy security of the nation. This surplus power can be utilized during peak demand periods or in regions where solar generation is limited. By acting as a net energy exporter, Indian Railways will play a vital role in stabilising the grid and promoting the efficient utilisation of renewable energy resources.
The integration of solar power into Indian Railways’ operations goes beyond reducing carbon emissions and achieving energy self-sufficiency. It exemplifies the company’s commitment to sustainable practices, fostering a culture of environmental stewardship. By embracing solar energy on a grand scale, Indian Railways is setting a precedent for other industries and organisations to follow, demonstrating that a clean energy transition is not only feasible but also economically viable.
Collaboration with Industry Stakeholders
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has emphasised the importance of industry participation in achieving the ambitious targets set by Indian Railways. Recognising that great things in business are never accomplished by one person alone, Vaishnaw has stressed the need for collaboration between the railway company and various industry stakeholders.
This collaboration extends to solar developers, technology providers, policymakers, and other relevant entities. By working together, these stakeholders can pool their expertise, resources, and innovative ideas to drive the transition to clean energy. The collective efforts of industry participants will play a pivotal role in overcoming challenges, identifying opportunities, and implementing sustainable solutions that align with Indian Railways’ vision.
Collaboration can take many forms, including partnerships, joint ventures, and knowledge-sharing platforms. By fostering a collaborative environment, Indian Railways can leverage the diverse perspectives and strengths of its industry partners, paving the way for a sustainable future.
By leveraging technological advancements and embracing innovation, Indian Railways can create a synergy between sustainability and passenger comfort. For instance, the integration of renewable energy systems can power charging stations for electric trains, promoting the adoption of cleaner transportation and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
Indian Railways’ commitment to becoming a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030 signifies a major step towards a sustainable and green future. By harnessing solar power and embracing clean energy solutions, the railway system can significantly reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the nation’s environmental goals. With industry participation and a focus on innovation, Indian Railways is on track to becoming one of the newest, finest, and greenest railway networks in the world.