It may be noted that Indian Railways is committed to utilize solar energy for meeting its traction power requirement and become a complete ‘Green mode of transportation’.
The 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.
The developers acknowledged the efforts of Indian Railways in leading the development of renewable energy in the country and expressed strong support to Indian Railways on the path of going green and achieving the net zero carbon emissions target by 2030.
This is in line with the recent directive of Hon’ble Prime Minister to solarise railway stations and utilize vacant railway land for Renewable Energy (RE) projects.
It will also contribute towards National Solar Mission, an initiative of the Government of India to promote solar power.
As a follow up, it has been decided by Ministry of Railways to provide solar power plants on vacant unused Railway land on mega scale. A pilot project of 1.7 MW capacity with direct connectivity to 25 KV traction system has been successfully operationalised in Bina. In addition, solar plant of 3 MW capacity has also been commissioned at Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli 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.
The use of solar power will accelerate the Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal’s mission to achieve conversion of Indian Railways to ‘Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway’. In order to achieve this, Indian Railways has developed a mega plan for installing solar plants of 20 GW capacity by utilizing its vacant land by 2030. With the ambitious plan of achieving 100% electrification for Railways 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.
Indian Railways has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards decarbonization which would be fulfilled by the solar projects being deployed, making it the first transport organization to be energy self-sufficient. This would help in making Indian Railways green as well as ‘Atma-Nirbhar’.
In this regard, to begin with, 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 Railways at reduced tariff, will also protect the Railway land by construction of boundary wall along the track.
Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal pointed out that Indian Railways is willing 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.
Adoption of modern indigenous technology to create an energy self-reliant Indian Railways will contribute towards meeting India’s renewable energy targets and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as committed by our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.