Like all other major state-owned companies in India, the Indian Railways has also been tasked with setting up large-scale solar power projects across the country.
Indian Railways is planning 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 announcement came from the Railway ministry which is directing the Indian Railways to set up small-scale solar power projects at railway stations.
The Indian Railways currently operates 10 MW capacity in the form of small-scale solar PV projects at 500 stations and buildings. It plans to double this capacity by setting up similar projects at 200 additional stations and buildings.
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 power generated from these large-scale power plants may be used for meeting the Renewable Purchase Obligation of the Railways, which is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the country, or it could be sold to the power utilities at a fixed pre-determined rate.
Like other public sector companies looking to set up large-scale solar power projects, the Railways is also expected to source PV modules and other equipment from Indian manufacturers.
Earlier this year, the Indian Railways announced a plan, in collaboration with IIT-Madras, to use solar power for providing air conditioning and lighting inside the coaches. The Indian Railways would do well to adopt renewable energy sources, as it is heavily dependent on diesel, whose prices are now linked to the global market and is also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
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