Looking to extend the success of a pilot project that saw the roofs of trains covered with solar power systems, the Indian Government is planning to financially support a similar but larger plan.
The Government may provide subsidies to Indian Railways to set up solar power systems atop 500 trains. The systems would be used to power lighting, fans, and air-conditioning systems aboard the trains, while the potential subsidy may be provided through the National Clean Energy Fund, which is replenished through the tax levied on coal mined or imported in India.
This program is in addition to the existing plan to set up 500 MW rooftop solar capacity at railways stations across the country.
Both these plans are expected to bring huge financial savings to Indian Railways, which is probably the single largest consumer of electricity in the country. In 2013-14, Indian Railways consumed 17.5 billion kWh electricity, or about 1.8% of the total electricity generated in India. On top of this, it also has to pay significantly higher tariffs than other consumer categories.
Indian Railways is planning to source 10% of its electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2020. Last month, it signed an agreement with the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy to set up renewable energy projects, including rooftop projects, utility-scale projects, solar water heating systems, and solar street lighting systems. The Ministry of Railways also announced last year that it would set up 1 GW of solar power capacity over the next 5 years.
Indian Railways is also planning to set up large-scale solar power projects on its unused land, and may open tenders for competitive auctions of the projects to set up these power plants.