NEW DELHI: In order to meet its energy requirements of over 33 billion units by 2030, the Indian Railways is mulling to set up 20 GW (gigawatts) solar power plants on its surplus land. Union Commerce, Industry and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said, “The Indian Railways plans to use its surplus land to generate 20 GW of renewable energy from ‘Made in India’ solar or wind equipment to fulfill its power network.”
The Union Minister said that the Indian Railways will be a 100 per cent electricity-driven rail network in the coming years which would make it the largest such network in the world.
“We plan to use a lot of our surplus land and land along the tracks to generate 20 GW (gigawatts)…’Made in India’ solar or wind equipment being used to give us 20 GW production capacity of renewable energy and enough KW (kilowatt) hours to power our entire railway,” Goyal said.
The Rail Minister said this while addressing CEEW India’s programme on ‘Powering Livelihoods: Transforming India’s Rural Economy with Clean Energy Solutions’.
The railways may need to either expand battery storage or other forms of storage for this, he said. It is to be noted that the Indian Railways’ current annual power requirement is about 21 billion units.
With an aim to meet the power requirements through clean energy, a Solar Power Developers Meet was organized by the Indian Railways. On behalf of the Indian Railways, Goyal assured to extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on Railway’s vacant un-encroached land.
Leading Solar Power Developers attended the meet and shared their expectations of being partners in the journey of Indian Railways to become “net zero carbon emitter” before 2030.
As per the plan, the Indian Railways is eyeing to achieve 100% electrification by the year 2023 and it is on track to being ‘Atmanirbhar’. During the key meeting, the Rail Minister stated that the Indian Railways is committed to utilize solar energy for meeting its traction power requirement and become a complete ‘Green mode of transportation’.
Primary areas of discussion in this meeting were as follows: – 1. Innovative solutions for setting up solar projects along the railway track; 2. Possible power procurement routes for achieving 20 GW renewable energy target, set by the Indian Railways, to become the net zero carbon emitter by 2030; 3. Challenges in large scale deployment of solar energy projects by the Indian Railways.
During the meeting, the solar power developers expressed strong support to Indian Railways on the path of going green and achieving the net-zero carbon emissions target by 2030.
As a follow-up, it has been decided by the Ministry of Railways to set up solar power plants on its vacant and unused land on mega-scale. A pilot project of 1.7 MW capacity with direct connectivity to 25 KV traction system has been operationalised in Bina.
In addition, a solar plant of 3 MW capacity has also been commissioned at Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Rae Bareilly for non-traction applications.
Further, 2 more projects – one at Diwana for 2 MW and another at Bhilai for 50 MW capacity for connectivity with State Transmission Utility (STU) and Central Transmission Utility (CTU) respectively – are in progress.
With the ambitious plan of achieving 100% electrification by the year 2023, Indian Railways’ energy consumption is set to become more than 33 billion units by 2030 from its current annual requirement of about 21 billion units.
With regard to this, bids for 3 GW solar projects on vacant Railway land parcels and land parcels along the railway track have already been invited by Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL), a PSU of Indian Railways.
These solar projects, besides supplying power to the Railways at reduced tariff, will also protect the Railway land by construction of boundary wall along the track.
On its part, the government has assured to extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on Railway’s vacant un-encroached land. Boundary wall along the track will be constructed and maintained by developers which will also help in preventing trespassing on tracks.