The Indian Railways is turning to solar power to cut down its increasing power costs. The Railways will soon launch tenders to set up large-scale solar power projects, inching closer towards its overall solar power target of 5 GW. The 5 GW capacity will consist of utility-scale and rooftop solar power projects.
The Indian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity with roughly 2 percent share of national energy consumption.
Attracted by the low tariffs at Rewa Solar Park in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the Indian Railways is now reportedly planning to set up a 1 GW solar power park in the state. Indian Railways operates over 8,000 stations, spanning across the length and breadth of the country.
Recently, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced that the Indian Railways would soon float solar power tenders to set up 3 GW of capacity. These projects will be set up over the unused surplus land owned by the Railways at various locations across the country. The minister had added that state-owned NLC India Limited (formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited) is planning to bid aggressively for Indian Railways solar projects.
The infrastructure as well as the space available to the Indian Railways has opened avenues for the development of rooftop and ground-mount solar projects that can be utilized to address its increasing energy needs.
According to the Indian Railways, “The current lowest solar power tariffs in India are ₹2.44 (~$0.038)/kWh, while Indian Railways and its regional arms pay around three to four times this rate to various power distribution utilities across the country.”
The Indian Railways is turning towards green initiatives for electrification as well as decarbonization and is already aggressively expanding its solar portfolio.
In October 2017, the Indian Railways awarded a total of 30 MW of rooftop solar contracts to Azure Power (20 MW) and Fourth Partner Energy (10 MW).
In August 2017, Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL) successfully auctioned 67.38 MW of rooftop solar projects for the Indian Railways.
In April 2017, the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuel, an Indian Railways entity, and Bharat Heavy Electricals entered into an agreement to develop a 2 MW solar rooftop project in the city of Patiala in southeastern Punjab.
In March 2017, Azure Power won bids to develop 46 MW of rooftop solar for the Indian Railways.
Lastly, in September 2017, ABB India announced it would be providing solar inverters to support rooftop solar systems installations in 750 railway stations in the northern part of India in partnership with Azure Power.
Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.