To cut short the electricity bill, Indian railways will soon run the trains powered by solar energy from the arrays of photovoltaic cells deployed along electrified tracks in 10 states. The solar power generated will replace 4 GW of coal-fired electricity consumed by the railways, saving the operator 20 %of its annual energy bill in the first year and 40% thereafter. Indian railways currently buy electricity for around 5 INR per unit.
Developers will recover the installation cost of solar panels and other equipments through the sale of power to the railway operator. Under an agreement with states there will be a provision to sell surplus power to the local utilities, which will supply equivalent power when Indian railways require it.
The railway board is examining a project bid document prepared by the Solar Energy Corporation of India which recommends PV electricity from panels be fed through inverters and setup transformers directly into the 25 KV overhead traction system. That would eliminate the cost of laying separate transmission line and boost manufacturing of 25 kV single-phase inverters.
Around 20 manufacturers, including ABB, Huawei, Delta and Sungrow, are said to be interested in manufacturing the equipment given sufficient demand, as per TOI. This is a historic step towards Indian Railways becoming a net zero emitter by 2010.” Railways and coal minister Piyush Goyal told the daily newspaper. “Indian Railways is far the greenest travel option for transportation.”
Under the proposal, Indian Railways will offer vacant land on both sides of selected tracks. The government of India is encouraging cash-rich public sector undertaking to setup renewable energy projects. Indian Railways has committed to developing 5 GW of solar by 2025.
As part of the Go Green Initiative, the train operator has already installed around 71.19MW of rooftop PV on stations and service buildings and the company is planning to add solar panels to the rooftop of its rolling stock. It has already installed panels on the rooftops of 19 narrow gauge coaches and 23 board-gauge non-air conditioned coaches that are in service.