SCR can pave the way for railways by harnessing solar power

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Direct solar power supply to rail lines can reduce CO2 emissions by 6.8 million tonnes per year

South Central Railway (SCR), with potential solar power output of between 394 and 625 MW, could easily power Indian railways to save nearly seven million tonnes of carbon per year with at least one in four trains in the national grid running on solar energy. .

A study by the voluntary organization “Climate Trends” and the British green technology start-up “Riding Sunbeams” found that direct supply of solar energy to rail lines could quickly reduce emissions by 6.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). every year. Indian Railways plans to become a zero carbon emitter by 2030 with a mix of electrification, renewable energy and energy efficiency. He decided to use the vast railroad land for solar power development with plans underway to provide 20 GW of solar power to meet the growing demand for power to move trains.

The study points out that about a quarter of this new solar capacity – up to 5,272 MW – could be injected directly into overhead lines of railways instead of being purchased from power grids, thereby reducing losses of energy. energy and saving money. However, meeting the target for total electrification could lead to an increase in CO2 emissions in the short term due to the dependence on coal to generate electricity. He analyzed the demand for traction energy on each of the railway zones and compared it to the potential solar resource in each region to produce a figure for the total amount of solar energy that could be connected directly to the railway for run trains, where SCR was set to High.

Other potentials from solar to rail are: Central Railway (299-475MW), Northern Railway (290-459MW), Western Railway (280-443MW) and West Central Railway (278-440MW).

Incidentally, SCR General Manager Gajanan Mallya previously mentioned the commissioning of 8.2 MWp solar power plants, 1.75 KWp hybrid solar power plants, 2.18 lakhs LPD solar water heaters, water pumping of 570 kWp and an equivalent daytime lighting system of 52 kW in the offices. The area has also electrified over 4,000 km out of a total of around 6,400 km, while it pioneered the introduction of a direct generation system where electricity is taken directly from overhead lines, thus reducing air and noise pollution while reducing carbon emissions by 700 MT per year. by train. Now, 32 trains pass by this mode, eliminating the need for two engines equipped with diesel alternators of approximately 32 trains.

If 100% LED lighting in stations / offices is another first in railways, 20 “energy neutral” stations with solar roof above the platform, energy-efficient gadgets, energy-efficient motorized fans electric brushless, inverter type air conditioners, etc., of 150 kWp has been completed. With expected energy production from these stations reaching around 2 lakh units per year, savings of 1.8 lakh each are expected and a reduction in the carbon footprint of 1,700 tonnes per year. Mr Mallya called for improving solar power capacity by taking advantage of the hot terrain and climatic conditions to increase energy savings from 71 lakh energy units; 6,300 tons of CO2 reduction and savings of ₹ 6 crore per year. The report highlights the railways’ dependence on coal, both as a source of energy and as a key freight product, accounting for nearly a third of revenues and calls for a change in the business model.

“India is the world leader in rail electrification and solar energy deployment. Connecting these two low-carbon technologies can boost economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and its efforts to move away from fossil fuels to tackle the climate crisis, ”said report co-author Leo Murray , founder of Riding Sunbeams. “This is a great opportunity to create a direct connection from the locomotive system to solar PV installations,” added co-author and director of Climate Trends Aarti Khosla.

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