According to reports, the Indian Railways has formed a new entity — Renewable Energy Management Company — to handle its renewable energy portfolio.
The Railways has an installed capacity of 5 MW of solar and 10.5 MW of wind power. Plans are afoot to install another 8 MW of solar power, according to Anil Kumar Saxena, Additional Director-General, Indian Railways.
Given its size and presence across the country, the Railways has been asked by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to evaluate the potential of solar power generation, sources said. This, according to the Ministry, will help save on power consumption and help it get the electricity at stable rates over the next 25 years.
The Indian Railways spent Rs 24,130 crore on fuel in FY12. This includes over Rs 3 crore for coal, Rs 10,628 crore for diesel (2.71 million Kilo litres) and about Rs 13,500 crore on power bills for locos, suburban locals and other needs.
Locos and EMU services alone consume 12,762 million units. The Railways still burn 1,000 tonnes of coal a year to run steam locomotives on some sections in the Southern and the Northeast Frontier Railway.
Estimates indicate that there is potential to harness 193 MW of solar power alone through rooftop application on rail land and buildings.
The Ministry also wants the Railways to participate in the bidding of 750 MW grid-connected projects under the National Solar Mission, slated to come up shortly.
The sources said tenders for installation of solar units at 200 stations and 21 office-buildings are in progress. The Railways will also float bids for setting up solar units at 1,000 level-crossings. It will identify about 10 locations to install off-grid solar thermal systems for use in cooking and laundry.
A detailed project report for this will be sought from consultants in a couple of months. Going forward, workshops, manufacturing facilities and training centres may also be equipped with solar and solar thermal plants.