Indian Railways, which has envisioned a plan to generate 1000 MW of solar energy by 2020, claims to be on track to become the largest harvester of rooftop solar plants, and plans to meet 10% of its total energy requirements through renewable energy by 2020.
As part of its ‘Solar Mission’, the transporter plans to generate 500 MW (megawatt) of solar energy through rooftop solar panels and the rest 500 MW through land-mounted solar panels. It also aims at generating 312 MW of energy through windmill plants with the help of Railway Energy Management Corporation Limited.
Sources in the railway ministry said Indian Railways has already tied up with Solar Energy Corporation of India to generate 100 MW of solar energy through land-mounted solar plants and production is estimated to commence from December, 2017, at an average rate of Rs 4.50/unit. The transporter has also tied up with Rewa Ultra Mega Solar (RUMS) to generate 50MW of solar energy through land-mounted solar plants at an average rate of Rs 4.50 per unit and the production is estimated to commence from December, 2017.
The transporter last year floated tenders for 50 MW for rooftop-based solar panels across its various zones. Sources in the railways ministry said the tenders will be finalised by June, 2016, and the ministry is expecting the per unit cost to come below Rs 5.50/unit. The railways is also going to float an additional tender for 100 MW by the end of May this year and expects the bids to be awarded by the end of 2016.
“We have been focusing on solar energy in a big way. As more and more of our network gets electrified and the use of EMU trains increases, our energy demand will also increase. It is of paramount importance that we start focusing on renewable energy; not only will it reduce our carbon footprint, it will also help us meet 10% of our total energy requirement by 2020,” a senior railway official told FE.
The official added that the transporter from FY17 plans to float tenders between 50-100 MW every six months.
The railways’ electrification spending jumped to Rs 2,227 crore in FY16, a 60% increase compared to Rs 1,391 crore spent in FY15 and expects its energy requirement traction/non-traction to grow by 4% annually.
The rail ministry, in a notification last year, had directed all zonal railways to call for tariff-based competitive bidding. According to the documents available on the ministry’s website, the transporter is going to sign long-term power purchase agreement (25 years).
The railways will allow the developer to use the rooftops of railway buildings without charge; with utilisation of complete energy by the railways. The transporter may also buy back the power plant, 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.