7,000 railway stations in India will be powered by solar energy

Entro pochi anni in India il 98 per cento delle stazioni ferroviarie saranno alimentate con solare fotovoltaico

98 per cent of India’s railway stations will be powered by solar energy. This is what the government of the Union of India aims to achieve by 2018 on 7,000 railway stations out of 7,137 across the country. The announcement was made by minister of Finance Arun Jaitley, who added that works have already started in 300 railway stations, with the number expected to increase to 2,000 soon.

Rooftop solar power systems

Solar energy will be provided to Indian Railways thanks to the Solar Mission of the Indian Railways programme, which includes the installation of solar power systems on railway stations’ rooftops. The aim is reducing the dependence on fossil fuels of India’s railway system, which ranks first globally for the number of passengers in relations to the amount of miles.

Along with rooftop solar power systems, Indian Railways aims to launch large-scale solar projects, including ground-mounted capacity. Also, the companies that manufacture the energy systems will be able to purchase the energy produced directly from Indian Railways.

Indian Railways is energy-consuming

Indian Railways is the country’s first energy consumer. For this, it has been working for years to meet its energy demand with renewable sources. Indian Railways’ electricity consumption is estimated to exceed 2 per cent of the country’s total consumption, using 2.6 billion litres of diesel each year. This turns into an expense of 5 billion dollars every year, which is about one fourth of the railways’ total income. Of course, costs must be compared with passengers, which amount to up to 20 million people every year in one of the world’s most trafficked railway networks. Passengers are on the rise and so is cargo transport, which increased by 165.7 per cent between 1992 and 2015 mainly due to raw and processed materials.

Solar power to meet India’s energy demand

In 2016 India signed a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to set up 5 GW of solar power capacity through a mix of rooftop and ground-mounted projects. So far, Indian railways launched their solar energy development programme in two states, Gujarat and Rajasthan, where 25 MG of rooftop and 50 MG of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in the first phase of the programme. In the second phase, the programme will involve 9 other states with 60 MG of rooftop and 660 MG ground-mounted capacity. During the third phase, 400 MW rooftop and 3,800 MW ground-mounted capacity will be installed in rest of the country.

india solar power
Solar panels installed in an Indian village © Abbie Trayler-Smith / Panos Pictures / Department for International Development

Solar power to reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels

India’s government is investing in solar power in order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Developing solar power in railways is a step in this direction and represents the right path towards a more sustainable development of the country.

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