- The Western Railway of Indian Railways has plans to install 2 MW of solar power at 30 locations
- It hopes to pay $0.07 per kWh for solar power, which would be less than half the $0.15 per kWh it pays for conventional power from utilities
- Once the bids received have been finalized, Western Railway expects the 2 MW PV capacity to come up in next five to six months
The Western Railway (WR) zone of the Indian Railways will be setting up solar power capacity of cumulative 2 MW on 30 locations. This capacity will be used to power its non-traction work.
The WR Mumbai Division currently pays 10.00 INR ($0.15) per kWh to conventional utilities Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company or BEST. For this 2 MW capacity, the division expects to sign a power purchase agreement for a tariff of 5.00 INR ($0.07) per kWh. Speaking to local daily The Times of India, WR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Ravindra Bhakar said that this will help WR save money as well as reduce its dependence on coal fired plants by 10%.
He said, “It is a win-win situation as the railways is not going to spend any money-on installation or maintenance. These solar panel will installed on rooftops across 30 locations on Mumbai suburban division.”
For any surplus solar power left post usage, it will be feed into the grid of the supplier. In case the power utilized falls short, WR will switch to traditional power from the utilities.
Indian Railways is aiming to generate 40% of cumulative electricity generation capacity through renewable energy by 2030. It wants to have 1,000 MW of solar power and 500 MW of wind energy by 2020. As of April 2016, it had a renewable energy capacity of 50 MW, including 11 MW of solar and 37 MW of wind power. The Ministry of Indian Railways will develop 500 MW of solar units on rooftops with Central Finance Assistance (CFA) from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), and the remaining 500 MW on land.
The Indian Railways run 11,000 trains everyday, including 7,000 passenger trains. In October 2016, the government introduced the newly manufactured Guard Van of Goods (Freight) Train equipped with solar powered light, fan, mobile charging point, among other features.
As of now, the WR department is waiting for the headquarters to finalize the bids that have been received to develop the solar capacity. Post the bid approval, the project will take another five to six months to execute.