India is gradually charting into eco-friendly territories after building its first fully solar powered railway station. The redesigned Guwahati railway station is located in the middle of Gawahati, Assam, India and has an array of interconnected rooftop solar panels that altogether hold up to roughly 700 kilowatts. This amount of solar energy is sufficient enough to power the entire station including the colony area, coach depot, a portion of the Indian Railways and all of the Northeast Frontier Railway. The historic Guwahati railway station first opened 118 years ago and today, it amazingly takes in more than 20,000 passengers per day.
While the Gawahati railway hails as India’s first fully solar powered train station, the country has launched its first fully solar powered airport, Cochin, back in 2016. The Cochin airport has a tens of thousands of solar panels that have a total capacity of over 48,000 kilowatts. The solar energy efficient Gawahati railway station was funded by CONCOR, a division of Indian Railways. The engineers at Central Electronics were the ones that completed the million dollar project and hopefully they will initiate more fully solar powered stations in the future.
Solar energy produces zero air and water pollution, but its expensiveness is what mostly shies people away from converting to it. India isn’t letting the costs deter it from creating a more environmentally friendly place to live. The country has already started building the world’s largest solar energy park called the Pavagada. This solar park is expected to generate approximately 2,000 megawatts of pure energy. When the Pavagada solar park is completed, it will be able to power more than 700,000 households in southern regions of India.
Developments in solar energy are one of the main ways that developing countries will be able to combat global warming. They provide a clean source of renewable energy that can help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels all around the world.
The railway system in India is a prime example of outdated technology that contributes massively to greenhouse emissions. In 2014, Indian Railways consumed 2.6 billion liters of diesel fuel. That amount accounts for almost 70 percent of the network’s total fuel bill.
However, Indian Railways recently announced its plans to reduce its total diesel fuel consumption. They rolled out a series of trains that have been outfitted with solar cells on the tops of the passenger coaches.
These solar cells are not intended to completely replace the diesel system. Instead, they are used to power passenger displays, lights, and fans inside the passenger coaches. The actual train will still be pulled by a diesel engine.
However, these small changes can potentially add up to significant savings. For each train with six solar powered coaches, the approximate savings is estimated to be around 21,000 liters of diesel fuel a year.
The most positive thing about this development is that it can positively impact the air quality of India. The first trains are set to begin operation in the most polluted city in the country, New Delhi. Once the trains are all converted in this area, they will then be rolled out to other major cities.
India Railways has set a rather lofty goal of 1,000 megawatts of solar energy production by 2020. This goal can then be scaled up to 5,000 megawatts by 2025. While they have only made small amounts or progress towards this goal, the developments of their solar powered coach program are definitely a step in the right direction.