In order to achieve the objective of becoming 100 per cent self-sustainable for all its power needs, Indian Railways has decided to set up solar power plants on vacant unused rail land on a mega scale, a decisive step towards going green and achieving the net zero carbon emissions target by 2030.
Stepping up the efforts towards green mode of transportation, the public transporter has operationalised a pilot project of 1.7 MW capacity with direct connectivity to 25 KV traction system in Bina (Madhya Pradesh).
In addition, a solar plant of 3 MW capacity has also been commissioned at Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli, for non-traction applications.
Further, two 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, according to Railways.
Indian Railways is committed to utilise solar energy for meeting its traction power requirement and also to contribute to national solar power goals, an initiative of the government to promote solar power.
The use of solar power will accelerate Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s mission to achieve conversion of Indian Railways into a Zero Carbon Emission organisation.
With the ambitious plan of achieving 100 per cent electrification for Railways by the year 2023, the energy consumption of the national transporter is set to become more than 33 billion units by 2030 from its current annual requirement of about 21 billion units.
Recently Indian Railways has organised wide-ranging discussions with key stakeholders under the chairmanship of Goyal to find innovative solutions for setting up solar projects along railway tracks and possible power procurement routes for achieving the 20 GW renewable energy target, set by the Indian Railways.
Challenges in large-scale deployment of solar energy projects by the Indian Railways were also discussed in the meeting, a Railways official said.
The developers acknowledged the efforts of the 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 the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to solarise railway stations and utilise vacant railway land for Renewable Energy projects.
Indian 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 ‘Atma-Nirbhar’.
In this regard, 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 Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL), a PSU of Indian Railways.
These solar projects, besides supplying power to Railways at reduced tariffs, will also protect Railway land by construction of boundary wall along the track.
Railways is willing to extend all support to the developers for installing solar power plants on Railway’s vacant un-encroached land.
Boundary walls 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 the Prime Minister.
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