Clean Power Solar Power Potential of India's National Highway Network

Published on April 2nd, 2013 | by Mridul Chadha


Indian Scientists Propose Solar Roofs For Roads

April 2nd, 2013 by  

After setting up the innovative canal solar power projects, India’s Gujarat state may also set up the first solar roof on road project. The proposal is to cover major roads and highways with elevated platforms which will be fitted with solar modules.

Scientists at the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI) have proposed a pilot solar power project at a Gujarat state highway. Through computer simulation the scientists believe that a solar roof cover on the 205 kilometre (km) Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway can generate 104 megawatts (MW).

Solar Power Potential of India's National Highway Network

Indian National Highway Network
Image Credit: Planemad | CC BY-SA 2.5

The scientists have stimulated the solar power generation potential for other major state and national highways as well:

  • 93 km Ahmedabad-Vadodara highway has a potential of 61 MW solar power
  • 5,839 km Golden Quadrilateral Highway that connects the four Indian metropolitan cities can host 4,418 MW through solar roof cover
  • 7,300 km North-South-East-West Corridor highway which runs across the length and breadth of India can be covered with 5,524 MW of solar power capacity

India plans to achieve 22,000 MW of installed solar power capacity. While the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules remains relatively low, the price of land has not come down as much and might not come down at all in the future as it is a highly limited and contentious resource in India. Thus, the scientists at GERMI have proposed that the space above the vast network of roads in the country be used for solar power generation. They also propose that such a project works well if it could be extended to the country’s railway network too.

The benefits of such a project could be enormous. Project developers in Gujarat and neighbouring Rajasthan have faced problems commissioning their projects due to lack of transmission lines. Most of the transmission lines in India are located parallel to the road network, thus, the problem of transmission and the cost involved would reduce significantly. The cost of land would also be relatively minimal.

A measure of the power generated could be used for lighting the roads as well as supplying power to other infrastructure located along the highways. Areas along the highways are also major centres of industrial activity. Such industries have very high electricity demand and part of it could be met through solar roofs over nearby roads. Localised power consumption would this reduce transmission loss and improve efficiency.

The scientists note that the elevated structures that would support the solar PV modules would also help in rainwater harvesting. If applied to the railway network such projects could supply power to the trains and may help reduce the dependence of Indian Railways on diesel.

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

  • raj

    first let india make nice roads and then think of solar on top of roads.
    some of the worst roads in the world and talking of solar….that india.
    with highest open air defamation and going to mars!!!!! and low cost!!!
    hope modi doesn’t vanish before the roads are completed

  • Rithik

    Can solar roadways brought into India.?? & what disadvantage we have in placing solar panels on roads , except the investment cost..

    • Bob_Wallace

      There would need to be some thought as to how best engineer the support posts so that they would be protected from vehicles striking them. Some thought would be needed as to the best ways to clean the panels and how to protect them from theft.

      Solve those issues satisfactorily and I can’t see why over road placement wouldn’t be a great place for solar.

      There are few energy investments that even come close to solar in terms of investment cost. A well designed solar system should give electricity for 40+ years at little cost once installed. Solar produces when the grid is in highest demand.

      Develop some storage like pump-up hydro and solar can feed the grid 24 hours a day.

  • thanks for sharing the information…

  • It’s really great news. It saves plenty of energy and provide more solar energy. I like this concepts.

  • Ananya

    haven’t they heard of solar roadways, go to

  • Meerwind7

    Additional wear on the solar modules, somwhat increased fuel consumption of the cars … rather start where solar can be made cheaply, safely.

  • If politics don’t get in the way of good sound economic engineering it looks as if India will be the first to use good ol common sense.

  • sivadasan

    This proposal is made by GERMI. It has to be debated within professional bodies that represent civil engineers. Dynamics of road safety and electricity safety sometimes contradicts. The present study just found the possibility. Whether it is feasible or not is to be decided after wider debates.

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