A study funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has identified that renewable energy sources could contribute to as much as 25% of Indian Railway’s energy needs by 2025.
The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has found that Indian Railways could set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, through rooftop and utility-scale projects, to significantly increase its consumption of renewable energy over the next few years.
The study by CEEW shows that 3,900 megawatts of utility-scale projects and 1,100 megawatts of rooftop projects can be installed by the Indian Railways with an estimated investment of $3.6 billion. Last year, the Indian Railways joined hands with UNDP to execute plans to set up 5,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.
The Indian Railways has managed to identify the solar power resource in two states so far – Gujarat and Rajasthan – where 25 MW of rooftop and 50 MW of ground-mounted capacity is to be commissioned in the first phase of the programme. In the second phase 60 MW rooftop and 660 MW ground-mounted capacity will be installed in nine other states. During the third phase, 400 MW rooftop and 3,800 MW ground-mounted capacity in rest of the country.
The Indian Railways has already announced a plan to set up 1 GW of solar power capacity over the next few years and is currently working on a plan to implement this capacity. The large-scale solar PV projects are likely to come up on the vast area of unused land available with the Railways. This capacity will be set up with support from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy through financial assistance from the National Clean Energy Fund.
The Indian Finance Minister, in his union budget speech for FY2017-18, had announced that 7,000 railways stations across the country will have rooftop solar power systems. A pilot project has already covered 300 stations and this number is expected to increase to 2,000 soon.