Special Article: Greening the Green Transport – MahaMetro Tryst with solar Energy

India was one of the early signatories to the United Nations Paris Accord (2016). The country, as per its national climate action plans, known in UN parlance as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement has set for itself three major goals to be achieved in time bound mannerincrease the share of non-fossil fuels to 40% of the total electricity generation capacity, to reduce the emission intensity of the economy by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level, and to create additional carbon sink of 2.5 -3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover.

In order to achieve the commitments given to UN and to catalyze a sustainable and environment friendly development, Government of India has set an ambitious target for installation of 175 GW of renewable energy projects by year 2022.

Out of which, 100 GW of Solar projects, which consists 60 GW of ground mount and 40 GW of rooftop mount Solar PV projects are to be installed.

Such a commitment at macro level for the country as a whole by the Government of India requires specific action at micro level by cities and entities.

The accelerated construction of Nagpur Metro Rail Project as most sustainable mode of transport in the city to remove the transport gridlock and to provide comfortable, inclusive and sustainable singular initiative which shall reduce the use of fossil-fuel to meet transportation need of the people at the city level and significantly reduce the carbon footprint. In its own way, Maha-Metro has been engaged in contributing to the gigantic national imperative to meet the NDC of the country under Paris Accord.

Metro-Rail in itself substantially reduces carbon-foot print by recourse to use of non-fossil fuel and consumption of ultra-low energy per-capita for urban transport when compared to personalized two-wheelers and cars and even public transport buses. But bigger contribution of Maha-Metro in this regard is its tryst with Solar Energy in big way.

It is to be noted here that almost at its inception Maha-Metro began the first Metro Rail Corporation in the country, to integrate the Solar Energy into its being and since that day, it has traversed a journey where it is committed to meet 65% of its all energy needs (including traction) by means of solar energy.

Quite clearly compared with its peers Maha-Metro has embarked on a path not travelled below. At four of its stations 485 kWp capacity has been installed which is generating 60,000 units of electricity per month.

An actual photograph of Solar PV system at Khapri Station

It is also worth noting that during Phase 1 total of 14 MWp will be installed which will finally increase to 25MWP generating 34 million
units of electricity per annum. In an unprecedented move MahaMetro is using its 38 stations. 36 km of via-duct and 10 km of boundary wall to support solar energy production. Some of the breathtaking installations of its roof-top solar power units

Solar PV system at Airport South Station

Unflinching Commitment to Renewable Energy

It is worth noting in this content that the Maha-Metro Green Power strategy was not only timely and consistent with National Renewable Energy Mission but but it also preceded the signing of Paris Accord. Maha-Metro’s commitment to usher in comfortable, inclusive sustainable and environmental friendly mode of transport also from day one made it incumbent upon itself to make solar energy integral to the very being of the company.

Making Impossible Possible- Maha Metro Solar Strategy

In every metro project, enormous rooftop space gets created as a byproduct, by way of construction of Metro Stations, boundary walls, various workshops & maintenance buildings in depots. Maha-Metro right from its inception, took a conscious call to utilize this valuable resource for harnessing the solar energy through installation of Solar PV systems for green, eco-friendly and sustainable development which was in line with National Mission as well as country’s commitment to UN under Paris Accord.

Solar Energy Traction Ambition

Not content with static use of solar energy Maha-Metro plans to tap grid power at 132 kV levels, which will then be used for Traction & Auxiliary purpose at 25 kV and 33 kV respectively. The Solar systems will be connected at 415 V at Auxiliary side and the challenge is to feed back the surplus power at 25 kV for traction use and remaining at 132 kV level to the discom grid. Further, the Solar PV panels are to be mounted on the station roofs and there should be no piercing of roof to avoid any water leakage.

Solar PV system at Airport Metro Station

Well Utilized Station and Administrative Building Roofs

I Maha-Metro have already taken an initial leap by installation of about 758 kWp Solar PV systems at the roofs of its four stations and Administrative building ‘Metro Bhawan’. The solar PV systemsare connected to the grid with Net-metering arrangement for export of the momentary surplus energy. The solar PV panels are mounted on the roofs with specially designed mounting clamps without piercing the roof and that enabled Maha-Metro to avoid the potential water leakage.

The Solar PV system at each station is connected at 415V Auxiliary side and in parallel to the grid supply. The generated solar energy meets the partial or full energy requirement of the auxiliary load and surplus energy (if any) is carried to through internal grid for train running. The residual energy is sent back to the discom grid through a net-metering arrangement.

Removing the Generation Point Pollution

Generally speaking Metro Rail system creates a positive impact on the local environment through reduction in air pollution. However, the overall impact of the metro system on air pollution of the nation crucially depends on how the electricity needed to drive the metro is generated. The commitment of Maha-Metro to fulfill up to 65% of its total energy requirement by using Solar energy and makes it a
truly Green Transport.

It goes without saying then that Maha-Metro is ever-greening the green-transport itself.

All Images Credit: Maha Metro