Indian Railways plans 1 GW of solar projects

Indian Railways is embracing solar in a big way.

The rail company has unveiled plans to install up to 1 GW of solar power projects in the next five years as part of its efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel-generated power, according to a news report by Bloomberg, which cited comments made by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in parliament on Thursday.

In presenting the railway budget for the year beginning in April, the minister said developers could use railway land and buildings to set up PV installations. Prabhu said his ministry plans to purchase power by soliciting bids from generators and power exchanges, resulting in savings of INR 30 billion ($485 million).

In January, Indian Railways announced initial plans to provide 10 MW of solar capacity at 200 railways stations, 26 buildings and 2,000 level crossings — a move that would increase its current installations by roughly 50%.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing for state-run companies to invest in renewable energy after setting an ambitious goal of 100 GW by 2022.

With solar energy so cost competitive and ideal for generating power in remote off-grid areas, PV is expected to soar in the world’s second-most populous country.

The country’s armed forces are currently developing 300 MW of solar PV by 2019.