To achieve its objective of becoming 100 per cent self-sustainable for all its power needs and also to contribute to national solar power goals, the Indian Railways has solarised more than 960 stations to date. Orders have been placed for 198 MW solar rooftop capacity for 550 stations that are currently under execution.
It may be noted that the Railways had recently organised a meet of leading solar power developers who had shared their expectations of being partners in Asia’s second-largest rail transporter’s journey to becoming a net-zero carbon emitter before 2030. The Railways is set to produce solar energy to meet all its energy consumption needs of over 33 billion units (BU) by 2030. The current annual requirement is about 20 BUs.
The Railways has a mega plan for installing solar plants of 20 GW capacity by utilising its vacant land by 2030. Some of the notable stations solarised are Varanasi, New Delhi, Old Delhi, Jaipur, Secunderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Howrah.
The Railways is willing to extend all necessary support to developers for installing solar power plants on its vacant un-encroached land. It may be noted that the Railways is also set to achieve 100 per cent electrification by 2023.
The use of solar power will accelerate the Railways’ mission to achieve the goal of becoming a ‘Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway’. In this regard, bids for 3 GW solar projects on vacant Railway land parcels and land parcels along the railway track have already been invited by Railway Energy Management Co. Ltd. (REMCL), a public sector unit of the Railways. These solar projects, besides supplying power to Railways at reduced tariff, will also help protect its land through the construction of a boundary wall along the track.