The national transporter is planning to generate 20% of its total energy requirement from solar and wind energy over the next couple of years.
The plan is a part of the railways aim to become self-sustainable in energy in six-seven years, thus helping it reduce its fuel bill by nearly 45-50%. The Indian Railways already has two 2,300-megawatt (MW) thermal plants in the pipeline, while a 1,400-MW nuclear power plant is yet to be cleared by the Cabinet.
To go ahead with the Indian Railways push for renewable energy, a blueprint to generate 800 MWs from solar and wind plants is already in the works. At present, Indian Railways requires 4,000 MWs of power. Well be generating 500 megawatts of solar power this year at our railway stations. This will be done through a public-private partnership (PPP). Well also be generating 200 MW through wind energy this year. Next year also, well do some projects on PPP to generate renewable energy. So, in two to three years, we should be generating around 800-1,000 MWs of clean energy, a railway board official said on condition of anonymity. At present, the railways has almost 38% (24,800 km) of its network electrified that carries almost 67% freight traffic and 51% passenger traffic.
The annual power and fuel bills of the Indian Railways best reflect the need to electrify its network and become self-sustainable in energy.
Its annual power bill at present is R10,880 crore and diesel bill is around R22,000 crore.
Rakesh Mohan Committee on Transport has also recommended that the railways should electrify its network aggressively if it has to cut its fuel bill. Railways get electricity from state electricity boards at an average price of R6 per unit. We have two thermal power plants in partnership with NTPC. The 1,000-MW plant in Nabi Nagar, Bihar, will become fully operational by 2015. The 1,300-MW plant in Adhra,West Bengal, is waiting to get coal block linkage. Once these plants start working in full swing, electricity would cost around R3.5 per unit. We are also planning a 1,400-MW nuclear power project in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corporation. The sites are being explored, the official added. The newly constituted Railway Electric Management Company, a joint venture with RITES, has been given the mandate of coming out with innovative solutions for using energy efficiently.