According to the current report of the Standing Committee on Railways on Demand for Grants, there are unoccupied railway land parcels along the lines and vacant railway plots accessible for the installation of solar panels, for the identification and utilization of which Indian Railways has issued directions to zonal railways.
The report stated that there are around 51,000 hectares of unused railway land, which the railways ordain to use to decrease their carbon footprints.
Indian Railways intends to build 20 gigatonnes (GW) of solar power on unoccupied land portions to meet its traction power needs.
The report says that the railways intend to build a 3 GW solar power facility in three stages. Under the developer model, 1.6 GW of capacity will be built in phase I. In phase II, 400 megawatts (MW) of capacity will be installed under the ownership model, and 1 GW of capacity will be installed along the lines under the developer model in phase III.
This is the world’s first solar project in which solar electricity is directly delivered to the overhead equipment system used for electric traction, the report said.
It further remarked that Indian Railways has begun three experimental projects: a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant on underutilized land in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, a 2 MW solar plant in Diwana of Haryana state, and a 1.7 MW solar plant in Bina, Madhya Pradesh.
In accordance with the Budget Proclamation 2020-21, to meet its traction power necessities as a “green mode of transportation”, Indian Railways intends to use its unused vacant land parcels for the construction of land-based solar facilities.
According to the report, almost 600 railway stations have been accredited for the implementation of the environmental management system in the last two years. More than 1000 stations have been covered with rooftop solar panels having 111 MW capacity, by January 2021.
The report says that Railways ensure that all broad gauge lines are electrified by December 2023. As of January 2021, a total of 42,354 kilometers route has been electrified.
Indian Railways’ diesel use has decreased significantly as a result of its greater emphasis on electrification.