A new study proposes direct sourcing from solar to rail, instead of sourcing from the grid, as an attractive route for Indian railways to achieve net zero emissions.
New study from Indian NGO Climate Trends and UK green tech start-up Riding Sunbeams says direct solar power supply is an attractive method for Indian railways to meet their net zero target by here 2030, given the rapid reduction in carbon emissions and cost benefits for the operator.
According to the study, the Indian rail network, if fully electrified, could sustainably meet up to 28% of its traction demand with the direct connection of solar photovoltaic production, without the need to connect via the network. The authors based their conclusions on current levels of energy demand. The amount of solar PV generation that can be directly connected to run the traction load is estimated at 5,272 MW. This is about a quarter of the new 20 GW solar capacity planned by Indian Railways for traction and non-traction loads as part of its efforts to reach net zero by 2030.
The direct connection of 5,272 MW of solar photovoltaic production should reduce emissions by 6.8 million tCO2 per year while supplying at least one in four trains on the national grid at competitive conditions.
Analysts pointed out that the solar power supply generated directly in the overhead lines of the railroad instead of being purchased through the power grids, reduces energy losses and saves money for the rail operator. If edge-of-line storage facilities can be integrated, an even higher proportion of IR’s planned solar generation capacity could be connected in a viable manner to the traction grid rather than the grid.
Report author, Riding Sunbeams Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Leo Murray said: âCurrently India leads the world on two vital climate frontiers: rail electrification and deployment of solar energy. Our analysis shows that connecting these two key low-carbon technologies in Indian railways can boost both India’s economic recovery from the Covid pandemic and its efforts to move away from fossil fuels to cope. to the climate crisis. “
Report co-author and Climate Trends director Aarti Khosla said: âIndian railways play an important role in the life of every Indian. Not only is it the most convenient mode of transportation, it is also the most famous and the largest employer in the country. The government is injecting large sums of money to modernize the railways, which in turn will play a big role in a net zero vision for the nation. There has been an analysis that converting all diesel locomotives to electric locomotives will actually increase emissions in the short term, however, this report shows the huge opportunity to get it right the first time, by creating a direct connection from the locomotive system with solar photovoltaic installations, meeting more than a quarter of total demand.
However, the researchers also warned that achieving the goal of full electrification of all roads by 2023 could be accompanied by an increase in CO2 emissions in the short term due to the current reliance on the. India using coal to generate electricity.
The power required to move trains in a rail network is called the traction load. To assess the part of the traction load that could be satisfied by a direct solar photovoltaic supply, the energy demand of 16 of the 18 railway zones of the IR was taken into account in the study. The two areas not considered were the Metro area and the New South Coast Rail Management Area, as annual consumption data for these two areas was not available.
The team analyzed the traction energy demand on each of the 16 rail zones and compared it to the potential solar resource in each region to produce a figure for the total amount of solar energy that could be connected directly to the path. of iron to run the trains.
Higher production and utilization rates dramatically improve the profitability of direct solar traction supply. The top five areas with the greatest solar-rail potential are South Central Railway (394-625MW), Central Railway (299-475MW), Northern Railway (290-459MW), Western Railway (280-443MW) and West Central Chemin de iron (278-440MW).
The South Central Railway can connect the most solar PV generation to 625 MW because it has the highest traction power demand. The Northeast Railway has the lowest traction power demand and therefore can only connect 117 MW of solar PV generation.
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