New Delhi: As part of the Indian Railways’ plan to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has held a meeting with stakeholders in the solar power sector and discussed innovative solutions for setting up solar projects along railway tracks. The companies that participated in these discussions held on Wednesday include Adani, ACME, NTPC, Renew Power, Hero Future Energies, Greenko Group, Azure Power and Tata Power, the railway ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
“It may be noted that Indian Railways is committed to utilise 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 on innovative solutions for setting up solar projects along the railway tracks and the possible power procurement routes for achieving the 20-GW renewable energy target, set by the Indian Railways, to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030,” the statement said.
The issue of how the railways would deal with the challenges in large-scale deployment of solar energy projects also came up during the discussions.
This is in line with a recent directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to solarise railway stations and utilise vacant railway land for renewable energy (RE) projects.
It will also contribute towards the National Solar Mission, an initiative of the Government of India to promote solar power, the statement said.
It has been decided by the Ministry of Railways to provide solar power plants on vacant unused railway land on a mega scale, it said, adding that a pilot project of 1.7-MW capacity with a direct connectivity to a 25-KV traction system has been successfully operationalised in Bina.
In addition, a solar plant of 3-MW capacity has also been commissioned at the Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli for non-traction applications. Further, two more projects — one of 2-MW capacity at Diwana and another of 50-MW capacity at Bhilai — for connectivity with the State Transmission Utility (STU) and Central Transmission Utility (CTU) respectively are in progress, the statement said.
The railway has developed a mega plan for installing solar plants of 20-GW capacity by utilising its vacant land by 2030.
“With the ambitious plan of achieving 100 per cent 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.
“The railways has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards decarbonisation, which would be fulfilled by the solar projects being deployed, making it the first transport organisation to be energy self-sufficient. This would help in making Indian Railways green as well as ‘Aatmanirbhar’,” the statement said.
Additionally, to begin with, bids for 3-GW solar projects on vacant railway land parcels and land parcels along railway tracks have already been invited by the Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL), a PSU of the Indian Railways. These solar projects, besides supplying power to the railways at a reduced tariff, will also protect the land by construction of a boundary wall along the track.
The statement said during the interaction with the stakeholders, Goyal pointed out that the railways is willing to extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on its vacant unencroached land. Boundary walls along the tracks will be constructed and maintained by the developers, which will also help prevent trespassing on the tracks.
Adoption of modern indigenous technology to create an energy self-reliant Indian Railways will contribute towards meeting the country’s RE targets and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as committed by the prime minister, the statement said.