The increasing role of renewable energy in Railway Infrastructure

The increasing role of renewable energy in Railway Infrastructure2021-01-19T12:02:09+00:00

Renewable solutions as energy source for Indian Railways and Urban Rail Transits

As India is progressing towards achieving its renewable energy goals, various sectors are implementing resources to meet the growing power demands. Indian railways and urban metro rail systems are equally exploring options to increase reliability towards clean energy.

Indian Railways, the largest electricity consumer of country, accounts for 2.4 percent of the total consumption, and the third-largest user of high-speed diesel (2.6 billion liters annually) is now planning to be the first 100 percent green railway network in the world by 2030. This is an extension of its bid towards developing 1 GW of solar generation capacity in 2020 and source 10 percent of its energy requirements from renewables, which aim to become 5 GW capacity mark by 2025. Working towards this goal, Indian railways is making efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and is increase the penetration of renewable energy sources.

Solar power is gaining significant traction in the railway infrastructure, which includes both the rooftop as well as utility-scale segments.

Currently, the Indian railway has planned 1000MW electricity generation from the solar power plant, which will have 500 MW rooftop based atop of railways stations and different service buildings, and the rest 500MW will be ground-mounted.

For the urban metro rail system, a massive amount of high-quality electricity is required to power the extensive network. They are the lifelines of any big city transporting thousands of passengers daily at economical rates. They have vast operation networks with a large number of metro stations, depots, parking spaces, and other premises, running high-speed trains at frequencies of minutes. For instance, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has a network of about 389 km with 285 stations spread across Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad.

With the expansion of routes and trains every year, the power demand for metro corporations is increasing at massive speed, which is expected to put tremendous pressure on the country’s urban power supply. This considerable consumption will add to high power costs. Thus, to reduce the operational expenses, the metro rail corporation has begun using the solar energy extensively to meet the power requirements and deploying solar projects in their premises, including metro stations, parking spaces, and different buildings and workshops.

Understanding the progress & challenges

With an aim to increase the renewable energy resources contribution in Indian Railways and urban metro system various initiatives have been taken by Railway Energy Management Company Ltd (REMCL) and different metro corporations like: –

  • Solar RooftopFor Indian Railways, which has set the target of the 500MW energy from the solar rooftop, 96.84 MW of solar plants have been installed, and 16 stations have been declared as green railway stations across zones. These green stations meet the energy requirements through solar of wind power.For the urban metro rail system, DMRC has already shared the plan to phase out thermal energy by 2021 and use solar energy. DMRC has been harnessing it since 2014, to meet its power requirements. The first solar rooftop plant was installed in South-West Delhi in August 2014 at Dwarka sector 21, which generates a small 500-kilowatt peak (kWp) and currently has the rooftop solar project to 53 stations and 12 depots producing total 28-megawatt peak (MWp) or 22.6 million units of electricity. The plan is to power all its 271 stations with solar power in the next two years.Similarly, Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) has granted permission to Noida Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRC), which can now install 10 MW of rooftop solar power projects a facility of net metering. Following the same vision, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has started moving ahead with renewable projects and have shared the requirement of 90 million units (MUs) /years from solar ecosystem.
  • Land-based projectsThe Indian Railways has also aimed to meet 500 MW energy requirements from ground-mounted solar plants for traction and non-traction. Out of which 3 MW has been installed at Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareilly. In Bhilai, Chattisgarh, which has a 300-acre vacant railway land, a 50 MW solar power project has been installed, which is expected to be commissioned by next year in March.DMRC has been receiving 27 MW of solar power from Madhya Pradesh based solar project, which will be providing 345 million units of electricity during the contract period.
  • Wind PowerIndia Railways has installed 103.4 MW out of the set target of 200MW from the wind energy sector. With Tamil Nadu having a windmill plant of 21MW (for non-traction) capacity, Rajasthan providing 26MW(for traction) capacity and Maharashtra with 6 MW (for non-traction) and 50.4 MW (for traction) capacity.CMRL has been identifying various sources of renewable power to meet energy needs. It has shared a requirement of 72 MUs per year from wind, and 90 MUs per year from wind-solar hybrid projects.But the deployment of clean energy sources also has some limitations which the sectors have to resolve.

    For Indian Railways, a significant challenge is that the energy demand and renewable resources are not the same in all the states. The state-wise requirement can differ from 25MW to 340 MW, limiting the use of the renewables.

    Moreover, the railway will require massive energy for the consistent execution of its plan. But the restriction with solar energy is that it can only be produced during the day. Thus the railways are talking to states for power engagement where the surplus power will be provided to states during the day, and in night railway can deploy their power.

    For the metro, one of the key challenges in procuring huge amounts of renewable power is its intermittency issue, which can be addressed by deploying energy storage systems. When combined with solar, wind, and hybrid solutions, it can resolve the issue of uncertainty.

Role of Delta in support railways and urban metro rail system in deploying clean energy sources

We have been partnering with Indian railways and metro rail corporations for their various projects. Delta Rail Transportation solutions has successfully installed the first 25kV Direct connected Power Quality Restorer on the Indian Railway network, to address the issues of Power Factor & Harmonics. Being a transformer-less fully variable active solution, it boasts high energy efficiency & meets the latest IEEE & CEA norms for reactive & harmonic compensation. The first installation has been commissioned at Southern Railway, and similar installations are planned in other sites, bringing direct economic benefit to Railways.

Delta has significant expertise in developing smart display & monitoring solutions for Passenger Information Systems, Signaling, Telecommunication & Train Control Systems, Traffic Management Systems, and Safety & Security Systems for railway operations. Recently, Delta Display Solutions unveiled 4K Laser DLP® Video wall, which fully supports 4K resolution, 4K control system, and Semi-Outdoor LED Displays for Public Information Displays. The successful installations include the prestigious Lucknow Metro, Bengaluru Metro, Mumbai Metro and more.

Delta Industrial Automation Solutions with its IIoT focused Industrial Ethernet Solutions offers a wide range of Cloud Routers, PLC, HMI, Smart Sensor, Temperature Controller, SMPS, AC Motor Drives, Industrial PCs, CNC, Industrial Robots and Solar Pumping Controller for railways applications such as Monitoring & Control, Networking, Passenger Information System, Cranes, lifts, Automatic Doors, HVAC, Command and Control Centre, Manufacturing of Loco and Coach Components and Renewable Solution for Water Sourcing.

Power disruptions in rail networks are not a mere inconvenience, they can also pose serious hazards to public health and safety. Designed to make the rail networks both safe and prompt, Delta’s UPS systems provide high reliability in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. In addition, it also provides support to passenger services, including lift systems, ticketing systems, information panels, lights, and auxiliary services for rail personnel. Telecom Power Solutions from Delta provides Integrated Power Supplies for Signaling, Telecom & Train Control Systems, that are highly efficient, reliable, safe, modular & scalable.

As a renewable solutions provider, Delta integrates energy generation, conversion, management, and storage to optimize customers’ energy use by switching grid power, renewable energy, and battery power. We also provide energy storage devices such as cells, modules (24V, 48V), cabinets (indoor and outdoor), and containers for residential, commercial, industrial, and utility applications.

Being a world leader in Power conversion technology, Delta offers a complete product range of solar inverters, accessories, and services that are compatible for both crystalline and thin-film panels. Delta’s state-of-the-art high-frequency topology and MPPT equipped portfolio includes the Grid-tied range of RPI series from 3KW to 125KW and DelCEN Series 1 MW to 3 MW which. Delta’s solar inverters are multifaceted and can be used in every system size as well as are compatible with all commercially available solar modules and system components. Our major installations include key metro and railway stations, airports, government, and educational institutions, industrial establishments, residential properties, large solar plants, and others.

Another major aspect of renewable sources is wind energy. At Delta, our Wind Power Converter Solutions are suitable for all leading technologies like DFIG and FPC designs with a wide power range (2.0 MW – 6.0 MW & multiples) and compatible with new trends, including Hybrid Solutions, with Solar Energy & Grid Storage.

To address the intermittency issue, Delta Electronics India offers Energy Storage System Solutions. With state-of-the-art power conversion and energy storage technologies it offers high-efficiency power conditioning capabilities for demand management, power dispatch, renewable energy smoothing, etc.

Being a progressive company, we use our hardware and software capabilities to collaborate with industry stakeholders and leverage our core competence in power electronics to bring out energy-efficient solutions and technology with our integrated and diversified portfolio. And going ahead as India witnesses more and more integrations of renewable power sources for railways and urban metro system, our aim is to keep supporting the demand with our innovative, clean and energy-efficient solutions for a better tomorrow.

Industry Statistics (Source: Media Reports)
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