India Railways to Upgrade 250 Trains with Solar Panels

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Indian Railways will be installing flexible solar panels and batteries onto 250 of their frames to power lights and fans. According to an Indian government official, Indian Railways has already done a tender for the installation of solar panels, which will require winning companies to install both the solar panels and better systems. Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway network in the world.

The program will start off with a pilot model where the flexible solar panels and better systems are installed on the six trains. These trains will then be put into commercial operations where the performance of the batteries and panels will be monitored and tested over two months. A large-scale decision on the implementation of the solar technology will then be made.

A study conducted by the United Nations development program suggests that the railway network could source up to 25% of all its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2025. In addition, The Council of Energy Environment and Water has reported that Indian Railways could spend around $3.6 billion to install as many as 3900 MW of utility scale projects and 1100 MW of rooftop solar projects.

In 2016, Indian Railways announced it would be partnering with UNDP to install 5 GW of solar power, in addition to its plans to launch a tender 150 MW of rooftop solar systems.

More recently, India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley said that around 7,000 railway stations across the country will receive power from solar energy as part of Indian Railways goal to employ 1,000 MW of solar power by 2020. The project will see stations being fitted with rooftop solar systems in addition to the installation of general solar power plants, via a long-term Power Purchase Agreement by the railways. According to Minister Jaitley, work has already begun on 300 different stations and work will expand to 2,000 stations soon.