India has approximately 7,137 railway stations. Earlier this month during the union budget speech, the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the intent of the Solar Mission of the Indian Railways: to power the country’s railway stations across the country with solar energy. The Indian Railways mission aims to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.
What exactly is the plan for this grand scheme to minimize the country’s dependence on fossil fuels? The railway stations will run on power that is generated by solar panels on the roofs of stations. “It is proposed to feed at least 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term. A beginning has already been made in 300 stations,” Jaitley said
CleanTechnica reports that Indian Railways has already managed to identify the solar power resource in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Beginning in these two states, 25 MW of rooftop and 50 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be commissioned in the first phase of the program. Following this step, 60 MW of rooftop and 660 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in nine other states. The third phase will involve 400 MW of rooftop and 3,800 MW of ground-mounted capacity to be installed in the rest of the country.
The project will also set up solar power plants through developer mode along with a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) by the railway with private solar construction companies, according to India.com.
How does India plan to pay for these solar stations, you ask? Well it just so happens that India has been collecting taxes on coal, both the coal mined in India and that imported from elsewhere. Sputnik News reports all those taxes have added up to $1.8 billion for the solar stations.
“The revenue from the tax has also gone to efforts to clean drinking water and the conservation of India's forests. In total, India has collected about $8 billion from the coal tax, about 40 percent of which has gone to the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF),” explains Sputnik News.
How about that for a commitment to clean energy! This comes after India has recently becom the owner of the world's largest solar power plant. The facility in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, has a capacity of 648 MW and covers an area of 10 sq km.