Sealdah Railway Station, one of the busiest railway terminals in the country, will soon be solar-lit in a major stride to promote the cause of clean energy and also bring down cost through energy efficiency. For now, ten buildings adjacent to Sealdah Station that started in 1869 under Eastern Railway (ER), will be illuminated with solar lights. The ambitious solar project at Sealdah, in the heart of the city, will be implemented through the RESCO (renewable energy services company) business model. ER expects to save around Rs 15 lakh in electricity cost per year, through this solar project.
ER has formed an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) with Erectcraft Energy, which is a new company floated by Suncraft Energy Private Limited, promoted by a group of IIT Kharagpur alumni to get this project executed in the PPP model. Interestingly, in this case, the private partner Erectcraft Energy will invest in the solar project, while railways will pay a pre-fixed rate per unit of electricity consumed for the next 25 years through a power purchase agreement.
“Work for the project has already started and it will be on course right from the beginning of the next fiscal,” an ER official said. “The 500 Kw solar power plant project will be able to generate nearly 7 lakh units annually, saving close to Rs 15 lakh per annum for the railways. This solar energy will be a sensible addition to railways’ sources of electricity, as it would help the railways reduce its carbon footprint as well,” said Robin Roy, Managing Director of Suncraft Energy Private Limited.
Initially, the plan was to install the solar facility on the shed covering the platform. However, civil engineers pointed out that the thrust exerted by the wind generated during the entry of trains in the station, might be harmful for the panels. Hence, it was decided that the installation should be put up on the rooftop of the administrative buildings. It may be mentioned that the entire system will integrate a self-cleaning mechanism, so that the yield is more. “Our system will also ensure that solar energy is an acceptable complementary product with the grid power. The utility-level solar energy project has already achieved the grid parity and in rooftop solar energy also, railways will purchase the power at a much lesser price than grid power,” another official of Suncraft Energy Pvt Ltd said.