Green Initiative Takes India's North Eastern Railway Solar

North Eastern Railway’s Green Initiative

The North Eastern Railway in India is preparing to move forward with it’s Green Initiative by setting up solar panels. According to the India Times, the panels will be placed on the roofs of the divisional railway manager’s office, the railway workshop, and the Bareilly city station.

According to official reports, as many as 960 solar panels are being installed at the divisional railway manager’s office. This will produce up to 300 KV of solar power.  The workshop will be housing a 200 KV unit and the Bareilly city station a 50 KV unit.

Prediction indicate this Green Initiative will cut North Eastern Railway’s electricity bills by 30%. Railway officials hope that their power consumption will drop from 3 lakh units per month to 1.25 lakh units per month. The Railway will also sell surplus power from the panels to the power grid.

The panels are being installed by Suryam International, a Bhuvneshwar-based company. They have also signed a 25-year contract for the project. Officials would like to cover all 85 North Eastern Railway stations with these solar powered units. They have already installed 2,139 energy saving LED tubes as well as 1,066 LED bulbs in all 85 stations.

The Railway’s Green Initiative a Brainchild of India’s Solar Revolution

The North Eastern Railway is just one example of India’s solar revolution. However, according to the World Bank, India’s population of 1.3 billion people makes them the third largest consumer of electricity. This is despite the fact that 240 million people reportedly have no legal electricity connection. However, demand for electricity in India is rising rapidly and they must find ways to meet that demand. This is the one of the leading factors in India’s solar revolution. They are looking for efficient ways to supply consumers with 24×7 electricity by 2030.

The Indian government is so confident in their green initiative that they have set ambitious goals. Some of these goals include producing 160 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power by 2022. Reaching this target will ensure that hundreds of millions of people will have light in their homes, power to run refrigerators to preserve food, and enough light for their children to study with at night.

Part of reaching this lofty goal is working with the World Bank to produce solar parks and increase availability of private financing. They also wish to introduce newer and better technologies and enable the development of green infrastructure. As a renewable resource, the only limit on the supply of energy from sunlight is in how fast we can collect it. This is also the reasoning behind India’s push to expand their solar infrastructure.

Rapidly Falling Prices of Solar Energy

The cost of electricity supplied through solar photocoltaic (PV) is currently a quarter of the cost in 2009. However, by 2040, predictions indicate that the price will fall by another 66%. India’s nearly 300 days of  sunshine per year present ideal conditions for solar energy collection. Predictions estimate that by 2027, over 50% of India’s power will come from renewable resources. These resources will include hydro, solar, wind, and also bio-power.

Solar is starting to displace coal as an energy source. Given the rapid decline in the price of solar power, by the year 2040, projections indicate one dollar will buy 2.3 times as much solar energy as it would energy produce from coal. The more affordable energy becomes, the more individual citizens can benefit from it.

A World-Wide Green Initiative

The Paris Climate Agreement objective of containing global warming to an under 2-dregree Celsius increase hinges on India’s commitment to a country-wide green initiative. To this end, the World Bank has pledged to provide more than $1 billion to fund India’s solar initiative. This funding will go towards things like the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar project. This project aims to put solar panels on rooftops across the country. This will utilize every inch of unused space in a project that has already produced over 100MW of energy.

On June 30, 2016, the World Bank also signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The two agreed to collaborate on increased solar energy production around the globe. The ISA consists of 121 countries spearheaded by India.

However, India isn’t the only country making huge strides in solar energy. As of 2016, Canada started putting solar panels in schools as part of their own widespread effort to educate students on energy efficiency. In January of 2017, France also opened the first solar roadway, a much larger scale adaptation of the European bike path made of solar panels that was installed in 2014.