Indian Railways has said that it aims to generate 10% of its electricity from solar power and other renewable sources by 2020.
The company’s initial aims are to erect wind turbines with a capacity of 170MW on land that it owns. It is also planning to install photovoltaic panels with a total capacity of 15MW at 200 railway stations, 20 office buildings and more than 6,000 level crossing gates throughout the country.
It intends to increase this to a total installed capacity of 5GW over the next five years.
Solar panels will also be placed on top of two narrow-gauge trains on the Pathankot – Jogindernagar route in northern India.
According to The Economic Times news site, the cost of installing the panels will be $6,000, and they are expected to save almost $2,000 per year. If the tests are successful, a broader system may be rolled out.
Indian Railways is the world’s seventh largest commercial employer and runs 12,000 trains each day carrying 23 million passengers.
Earlier this year India installed photovoltaic panels above canals in the north-western state of Gujarat.
Canadian engineer WSP has suggested that UK rail companies may consider using solar powering for their systems.
Image: Solar panels on top of an Indian train (Anil Kumar Chhatri/Indian Railways)