New Delhi: In its bid to replace 4,000 MW of coal-fired electricity, the Indian Railways is set to use solar power from arrays of photovoltaic cells deployed on both sides of certain electrified tracks in 10 states to operate its trains. The move is part of the national transporter's attempt to pivot towards renewable energy deployment in the country, government sources reportedly said. At present, the Railway Board is assessing the project bid document, stipulating local manufacturing for 1,200 MW of equipment.
The bid has been prepared by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), with the tender expected to be worth Rs 16,000 crore.
"This is a historic step towards Indian Railways becoming a 'net zero emitter' by 2030. Indian Railways is by far the greenest travel option for transportation," railways and coal minister Piyush Goyal told TOI.
The Railways will also offer land, often threatened by encroachment, on both sides of the tracks, the source said. The promoters will also invest in solar panels and other equipment. The investment will be recovered from the sale of power as the Railways procure power at an average cost of Rs 5 per unit.
According to reports, the proposal has numerous firsts. One, power from the panels will be fed through inverters and step-up transformers directly into the 25,000 Volts (25 kilo Volt or 25 kV) overhead traction system, removing the need for laying separate transmission lines.