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Railways to generate 1,000 MW solar power by next year

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) With the emphasis on zero emission, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday stressed on setting up a large solar power capacity along railway tracks, which the Indian Railways said will be able to generate 1,000 MW by 2021-22 and it will achieve the capacity of 5 gigawatt (GW)by 2030.

Presenting the Union Budget 2020-21, Sitharaman said: “About Indian Railways, there are five measures that I wish to highlight. Setting up a large solar power capacity alongside the rail tracks on the land owned by railways. A proposal is under consideration.”

Addressing a press conference at the Rail Bhawan here, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav said: “The railways has planned to tap solar power to lower its expenses. The railways plans to become self sufficient in solar power by 2030.”

He said this will be in line with the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the International Paris Agreement on Climate change, 2015, where India has pledged a reduction of 33-35 per cent in emission intensity by 2030 from 2005 levels.

He said that the Railways will also contribute towards National Solar Mission. It will also fulfill in meeting renewable purchase obligations of Indian Railways as a deemed licensee. Stressing on the need for zero emission, he said that the national transporter will go green by 2024 as its entire network will be electrified.

Yadav said the Railways has identified its land pool, which can be used for solar power generation. He said about 51,000 hectare of land is available with it which is fit for the solar power generation and railways requires about 5 GW power for its usage.

“So by 2030, we will generate 5 GW of solar power and in next financial year, we will be able to achieve 1,000 MW of solar power target,” he said. The Railways will adopt the solar power generation in a phased manner as the 50,000 hectare land pool is able to generate 10 GW of power.

He also said that as there are limitations with solar power, where the power is generated only during day. “We are in talks with states for power banking engagement, where the surplus power will be shared with the states during the day and in night, we can use their power,” Yadav said.

On the REailways’ solar plans, he said: “As a part of this plan, Indian Railways has planned to set up 1,000 MW solar power plant and about 200 MW of wind power plants by 2021-22 across zonal railways and production units.”

Noting that the Railways, till date has installed 100.99 MW solar and 103.4 MW wind power across railway installations, the Chairman said that Railways primarily uses electricity and diesel for its traction applications. “In 2018-19, Indian Railways consumed about 18 billion units of electricity, which is around 1.27 per cent of the country’s total power consumption, and 3,069.30 tonne kilo litres of diesel in 2018-19 for its traction needs. With 100 per cent electrification and rail traffic projected to grow, it is estimated that railways will be consuming around 28-30 billion units for its traction requirement.

“The requirement is expected to increase further with commissioning of dedicated freight corridor routes and decongestion of railway routes.”

With Modi’s ambitious plan to install 175 GW of solar power by 2022-23, and to reduce fuel burden of railways, it has been endeavoured to install land-based solar plants across the Rrailways network.

The Chairman said that the solar power generated will be fed to CTU/STU grid or directly to 25 kV AC traction system. A proof of concept of feeding solar power directly to 25 kV AC traction system of 5 kVA capacity is already demonstrated. Further, to scale up 2 pilot projects of 2 MW at Diwana in Haryana and 1.7 MW at Bina in Madhya Pradesh are already under different stages of execution and likely to be commissioned by March 2020.

The Railways is also setting up a 50 MW land solar power plant at Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, which is likely to be commissioned by January 2021. He said railways has also tied up for 400 MW solar power for its traction energy need through Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd (RUMSL), a Joint Venture of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (MPUVNL) and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

“Tender for this is likely to be opened in month of June, 2020. Railway is also installing rooftop solar plants at various railway installations for which solar plants works of 245 MW are under different stages of execution,” Yadav said.

The Chairman further said that for meeting requirement of 30 billion units of power, it has been to utilize vacant unused railways land for installing solar plants of 2 GW. “Initial survey of about 4,500 acre land is already carried out and is under different stage of processing. This land is capable of installing 1 GW of solar plants. Survey for another 4,400 acre of land is currently under way which will install another 1 GW of solar plants on Railway land,” he added.

–IANS

aks/vd

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