In a big leap towards becoming the world’s largest green railway network, Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central (DRM) or Chennai Central railway station, under the South Central Railway (SCR) gets powered by Solar Energy. The Chennai Railway station has become the first Indian Railway station that meets the 100% day energy requirement target by solar panels installed on the platform shelters of the station.
While tweeting a picture of the station, Union Railways Minister Ashwani Vaishnav informed that the station has installed a solar power capacity of 1.5 MW, and thereafter all the energy needs at the stations will be met by this solar power.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to laud this great initiative, saying “Happy to see the Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central Railway Station show the way when it comes to solar energy.”
Setting the foot towards Green Railways
SCR is the first of many Indian Railway zones that has adopted the concept of ‘Energy Neutral’ railway stations. The Chennai Railway station is now capable of meeting its 100% energy requirements by solar power commissioned on its 13 station buildings.
Along with that, power panels have been installed at various locations and railway stations including the MMC complex, Tambaram, Mambalam, Katpati, and others.
Indian Railways moving towards “net-zero carbon emission”
To become the world’s largest green railway network, Indian Railways is now moving towards “net-zero carbon emission” before the year 2030. Earlier, on the occasion of World Environment Day 2021, the national transporter, in a statement had stated that the railways are moving towards a complete green restart.
In order to harness the extreme potential of Renewable energy, the railways is aggressively pushing towards the installation of solar-powered stations that will contribute to environmental protection.
In this regard, the recent achievement by SCR has already set a deep foot towards Indian Railways’ “Green Restart” goal.
Recognizing these big developments, the Indian Railways allots Green certifications to stations that are constructed keeping in mind the sustainable development goals such as, energy conservation measures, use of renewable energy, Green House Gas emission reduction, etc.
AtmaNirbhar Railways: Solar Energy for self-sufficiency
India is on the verge of an “energy revolution” where major sectors of the economy are ramping up their technologies to cut carbon emissions while pushing sustainable development.
The country has a huge potential in Solar energy, which is undeniably the most abundant renewable energy source available in India. Being the third-largest energy consumer in the world, India needs a healthy mix of all commercial energy sources.
In this regard, Indian Railways already has 220 Megawatt (MW) capacity of RE power, with nearly 3,450 MW capacity in the pipeline. The Ministry states that it has a potential of 20 GW of solar power and is planning to utilise its vacant land parcels to set up land-based solar plants for its traction power requirement.
Currently, the Indian Railways is collaborating with several donor agencies and stakeholders to accelerate its low carbon journey. It has even signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Ofce (FCDO) for collaboration on energy and sustainability under its Power Sector Reforms Programme.
Indian Railways is installing solar panels on the rooftops of its various stations and service buildings for meeting its non-traction power requirements. More than 1000 stations have been covered with solar panels on the rooftop and more are in pipeline
Indian Railways has also planned for the installation of a one-of-the-kind solar plus storage hybrid pilot project at Dahod, Gujarat connected to the railway traction network.
Solar Powered Railway Stations across India
As per a report by the Ministry of Railways, 111 MW solar capacity has already been installed at rooftops of various stations and administrative buildings by January 2021, such as:
- 3 MW Rooftop Solar plant at Howrah Railway Stations
- 1 MW Rooftop Solar at Katra Railway Stations
- 3 MW Solar Land-Based Project at Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli
- A 1.7 MW pilot solar project for powering the traction network of Indian Railways directly through solar power was commissioned in Bina, Madhya Pradesh in June 2020.
Further, the Indian railways are commissioning multiple solar projects across different Railways zones in India to expand the objective of installing maximum solar-powered stations.
To conclude, India is on the right track when it comes to working towards Green Restart, and the Indian Railways is working in mission mode to achieve this goal with an aim to become a “net-zero carbon emitter” before 2030.