Indian Railways has made the decision to go fully solar. Solar power will soon be used to power the lights and fans in train coaches. This is a big move forward for India’s renewable energy market. Solar energy has been found to save a lot of diesel (approximately Rs 3 crore per train over 25 years) which is used in powering lights, fans, and mobile charging points.

Net Zero Carbon Emitter

The Indian Railways revealed that solar panels have been installed at 960 railway stations to meet their power needs. The Railways have set a target of achieving 100% electrification by 2023, and these solar systems are part of that effort. Orders for 198 MW of rooftop solar power for 550 stations have been placed and are currently being implemented. Varanasi, New Delhi, Old Delhi, Jaipur, Secunderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati, Hyderabad, and Howrah are among the stations that have been solarized. The Indian Railways recently hosted a meeting with leading solar power developers to discuss their aspirations as partners in helping the Indian Railways become a “net-zero carbon emitter” by 2030. The Indian Railways also plans to use solar energy to fulfill its traction power needs, making it a completely “green” mode of transportation.

Present Implementations

Madhya Pradesh

In Madhya Pradesh, a total of 79 feasible railway stations have already been equipped with solar panels/plants. The first of its kind 1.7 MW power plant in location, is set to be inaugurated, and it will provide direct 25 kV AC power to the overhead lines in the Indian Railways’ Bhopal Railway Division. The plant could produce up to 25 lakh energy units per year, saving the Indian Railways Rs 1.37 crore per year. The experiment of feeding overhead railway lines will hasten India’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Passenger Trains

Solar Power Technology was initiated by the national transporter on passenger rail lines between Sarai Rohila (Delhi) to Farrukh Nagar (Haryana) for fulfilling the capacity demands of lights and fans. So far, as many as 60 passenger coaches have been powered by solar panels for fulfilling the power requirements of lights and fans, according to the data supplied by the Railway Minister in the parliament. Aside from these 60 passenger coaches, 10 non-air-conditioned coaches in Mathura will operate on the Mathura-Alwar railway line, and 30 non-air-conditioned passenger coaches will run on the Lucknow-Varanasi railway section.

The Way Forward

Indian Railways intends to construct 20 GW of solar projects on vacant land in order to meet the estimated demand needs of over 33 billion units by 2030. Solar plants with a capacity of 500 MW will be mounted on the rooftops of railway buildings to meet non-traction loads at railway stations. The South Central Railway Zone is also putting in place a number of energy-saving initiatives, including the use of renewable energy. Solar panels will be installed at stations and service buildings in the region. These efforts to make the entire railway systems sustainable are commendable and will inspire other countries to follow suit and make the Earth greener.