In line with the budget commitment made by Indian Railways towards installation of solar plants as part of its ‘Solar Mission’ to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, the transporter has come out with a policy on solar capacity panels on rooftops of railway stations. It has envisioned a plan to source 1,000 mw of solar power over five years besides establishing 132 mw of windmill plants by REMCL. Of the 1,000 mw which will be harnessed through solar power 500 mw will be generated through solar capacity panels on rooftops.
The railways in the first phase intends to procure 50 mw of solar energy, which will be divided over all the zonal railways across India. According to the notification by the ministry of railways all zonal railways have been instructed to call for tariff-based competitive bidding. The long-term Power Purchase Agreement (25 years), will allow the developer to use the rooftops of railway buildings without charge; with utilization of complete energy by the railways. The transporter may also buy back the power plant as per the provisions made in the tender document, if there is a sharp drop in the price of per unit power being procured from other sources as compared to the price of solar power contracted. The railways is set to issue its model bid document soon.
“We already have solar power plants in about 300 of our stations out of which approximately 50 stations are ‘Green Stations’, they meet the whole of their energy requirement through solar power.” a railway official requesting anonymity said. “The transporter is also looking at installing solar panels on trains in a big way, a pilot project in this regard has already been undertaken,” he added. Besides having solar panels on New Delhi railway station and Delhi Cantonment station the national transporter this year established the largest solar power plant on its network at Katra Railway station. The 1 mw of solar power plant at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station has been producing 5,000 units everyday, with Katra station only requiring 1,700-1,800 units daily the surplus is being exported to power development department of Jammu and Kashmir.
With a staggering energy bill of Rs 13,000 crore, the national transporter has taken various steps to trim its costs. Besides tapping solar and wind energy, the Indian Railways has also started procuring energy through competitive bidding and with CERC according it the deemed distribution licensee status, the transporter looks to save around Rs 3,000-4,000 crore in the near future.