Saurabh Mahapatra is a young solar enthusiast from India who has reported on emerging solar power markets in several countries. On the Clean Technica website, he records that in February’s union budget Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that 7,000 railway stations will be fed with solar power as part of the Indian Railways’ mission to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.
The minister stated that work to set up rooftop solar power systems at 300 stations has already started, and this number will increase to 2,000 stations.
According to data released by the Minister of Railways, India had 7,137 railway stations at the end of March 2015. The project developer will sign a long-term power purchase agreement with Indian Railways.
In addition to rooftop solar power systems (above, Udaipur station), Indian Railways earlier announced plans to launch a tender for 150 megawatts (MW) of rooftop systems. IR entered into a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme to set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity.
Indian Railways has identified solar power resources in two states so far — Gujarat and Rajasthan — where 25 MW of rooftop and 50 MW of ground-mounted capacity is to be commissioned in the first phase of the program. In the second phase, 60 MW of rooftop and 660 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in nine other states. During the third phase, 400 MW of rooftop and 3,800 MW of ground-mounted capacity will be installed in the rest of the country.
Sputnik International adds that to pay for these solar platforms, as well as other renewable energy sources, India has collected $1.8 billion in taxes on coal mined in India and imported from elsewhere. The revenue from the tax has also gone to cleaning drinking water and conserving forests. India has collected about $8 billion from the coal tax, about 40% of which has gone to the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF).