Last month Indian Railways’ first solar-power augmented diesel-electric train chugged into Haryana from a neighbourhood in Delhi. Its six coaches are equipped with 16 solar panels on the roof and will be used to power all electrical appliances inside. The Railways hope to reduce 239 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by saving approximately 90,800 litres of diesel on the train.
The train is just one example of how bullish India is on the green energy business. The trend appears even more significant when considered in the context of the widely-panned US pullout from the Paris climate accord. Last May, India came in second to only China in the renewable energy attractiveness index according in a report by global consultancy Ernst & Young.
Not just the railways, the Delhi Metro also doing its bit. It has installed nine new solar power generation facilities in the stations and the depot of Badarpur-Faridabad Metro corridor for partial fulfilment of the energy requirements. The solar power plants with a total generation capacity of 1,660 kWp will be used for lighting and other auxiliary requirements of the station.
However, experts say rooftop solar panelling has not yet turned into an attractive business model in India.
India’s total installed rooftop solar capacity was estimated at just over 1,000 megawatts till 31 December 2016 which is about 3 per cent of the targeted 40 gigawatts by 2022.
“We haven’t yet been able to make roof top solar systems into a flourishing business. The solar power generated is being used by the consumer but most of them are still unable to send the surplus back into the power grid. Once we develop that space and scale up the solar power, we will see an effective change,” said Anant Sudarshan, Director of Energy Policy Institute.
But India remains set on ambitious targets for the renewable energy sector’s development. Solar and wind installations in 2016 exceeded the yearly goal by 116 per cent with efforts to promote renewable energy on the basis of cost competitiveness.