Railways in India have been increasingly adopting rooftop solar to meet their electricity demand. Southern Railways (SR) in Chennai is adopting the solar plants. Also, the South Western Railways (SWR) is going to install the plants in Karnataka.
The railway department has installed a large number of solar panels at Hospet and Mysuru railway stations. The capacity of the rooftop solar plant is 100 kW helping railways saving electricity bill by 70%. Without solar panels, the electricity bill of Hospet railway station would touch INR 4.5 lakh. The rooftop solar at the station is in operation for 6 months now. The solar panels backup power supply to the station office, hospital, running room and guestroom on the station premises.
The railway will soon adopt the rooftop solar initiatives at three major railway stations at Bengaluru as well. These stations have sufficient space to install enough solar energy panels to cut down the electricity bill by minimum 50%.
In recent days, the Railways has started experimenting with the rooftop solar technology in other states. They have tried installing solar panels on coaches and to run an entire station on solar power. To reduce electricity bills, 11 railways stations in Kerala are installing solar panels.
Limitation on railways to use rooftop solar
Like everyone else who is using these solar power plants Indian Railways also has to comply with the state regulatory provisions. Indian Railways is a public utility which is also a major consumer of electricity. Due to the restrictions from power regulators, it is unable to use the solar power plants to its full potential. Should the regulators relax the norms the capacity of rooftop solar plants in India will go up. Regulatory provisions often restrict the capacity up to 1 MW. Since railways are energy guzzlers they can easily surpass the size of 1 MW and consume all energy.
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