Indian railways is going to utilise its land along the tracks for installing solar power plants. The total capacity of the plant will be 4 gigawatts (GW) for which the railways will announce a tender soon. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will invite the tender for solar bidding. It will issue the tender in two tranches of 2 GW each. The condition for solar power tender will also include the domestic production.
The solar power capacity will be built across 10 states. The first tranch of solar plants will come up in Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana and Rajasthan. The remaining capacity would come up in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Availability of evacuation facility holds prospects for lower solar power tariffs for railways
For the first time, the national transporter will own power generation units, in what could help cut its huge energy costs. Indian railways consumes around 16 billion units of electricity annually. At an average electricity cost of INR 6/unit, this translates to nearly INR 10,000 crore. In states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan, Railways pays tariffs as high as 10.52/unit, Rs 9.13/unit and Rs 8.33/unit, respectively, on traction.
Cost of solar power, on the other hand, is hovering in the range of INR 2-3/unit. The lowest solar tariff till date is INR 2.44
. These solar power plants will be connected to the transmission system built for railway traction. As the ownership of transmission system wrests with the railways the offtake risk is nearly nil! The availability of evacuation facility also holds prospects for lower solar power tariffs for railways. Further, these efforts will also help the national transporter to reduce its dependency on diesel-oil
. Besides the GW scale solar plants Indian railways has also installed rooftop solar plants on its premises.