The railways gets power from state electricity boards for which it has to pay around R6 per unit. After its Bihar plant becomes operational, it would get electricity for R3.5 per unit. The national transporter consumed over 16.6 billion units last year and paid a bill of about R8,715 crore for traction and non-traction applications.
The plant, being set up under a joint venture with NTPC with the railways equity contribution at 26%, would bring the railways a step closer to achieving self-reliance in its energy needs.
By December, well be commissioning a 250-MW unit and the rest three units in the first half of 2015. It will help us bring down our energy bill substantially, said railway board member (electrical) Kul Bhushan.
The plant will cater to railways needs in Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The plant, after full operation, will have an annual requirement of 5 million tonne coal, which will be sourced from the north Karnpura region, about 210 km from the site.
Railways currently uses about 4,000 MW of power to operate its network. This is expected to rise by another 1,000 MW in the next four years. The railways is expecting an increase of R1,000 crore in its electricity bill next year due to a revision in power tariff and an increase in its electrified track. At present, 35% of the total railway network is electrified. The aim is to reduce railways energy dependence from outside sources by developing large-scale in-house capabilities that would also help reduce the overall energy bill from the current levels, Kul Bhushan added.
In the 12th Five-Year Plan, the railways is expecting an investment of R6,000 crore in its energy projects, including thermal, gas, wind and solar plants. The national transporter is also currently implementing a plan to produce 157 MW of power from wind energy on its own with a total investment of about R1,100 crore as it has targeted generation of 10% its overall energy from renewable sources by 2020. At present, close to 65% of freight and 50% of passenger traffic is carried using electronic locomotives. With 3,300-km 100% electrified dedicated freight corridors coming into existence by 2017, the share of freight pulled by electronic locomotives is going to rise further.
We have two thermal power plants in partnership with NTPC, with a combined capacity of around 2,300 MW. The 1,300-MW plant in Adhra, West Bengal, is waiting to get coal block linkage. Then, we are also in the preliminary stage of planning a 1,400-MW nuclear power project in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corporation.
The sites are being explored. We recently constituted the Railway Electric Management Company, a joint venture with RITES, which has been given the mandate of coming out with innovative solutions for using energy efficiently, he said.