Indian Railways Plans to set up 500 MW grid-connected rooftop solar photo voltaic systems
The Indian Railways operates 19,000 trains daily, transporting 23 million passengers per day. As a part of an overall strategy to shift to renewable energy, Indian Railways has come up with a policy for setting up grid-connected rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to be developed at offices, buildings, railway stations of zonal railways. This would help India achieve its 2030 emissions reduction goals as well as improve energy security by reducing fossil fuel import.
In order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and add to India's climate change mitigation effort, Indian Railways has developed a Solar Mission. As part of this mission, Railways has an ambitious target to source 25% of its energy requirement from renewable energy sources by 2025 by setting up 5,000 MW of capacity in solar and wind energy. Under this programme, IR has a plan to set up 1000 MW solar power plant by utilizing roof-top space of railway stations, other railway buildings and land including through the PPP mode as per the feasibility as under: (I) 500 MW solar plants on the rooftop of Railway buildings through developer mode with PPA by Railways, which will be used for meeting non- traction power supply loads. (II) 500 MW solar plants to be put up on land-based systems with PPAs to be signed by railways with developers, primarily to meet traction power supply. The projects will leverage the efficiency and expertise of private sector in delivering innovative solutions and will be developed in partnership with private players on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis. The scope of work will include design, engineering, procurement, erection (including civil and structural works), installation, testing and commissioning of the grid-connected rooftop solar PV systems including operation and maintenance (O&M) of the systems for a period of 25 years after project commissioning. In order to ensure level playing field, a Model Power Purchase Agreement (MPPA) for Rooftop Solar Projects on Indian Railways has been developed and put in the public domain (see attached document available below for further details). The project on completion will give financial benefits to Indian Railways by reducing expenditure on the energy bill and would help in India's climate change mitigation effort. Under this programme, Indian Railways has already installed rooftop solar of more than 50MW capacity. In October 2017, Indian Railways has awarded a total of 30 MW of rooftop solar contracts to two firms namely Azure Power Fourth Partner Energy to develop 20 MW and 10 MW rooftop solar power respectively. The electricity developed from these units will be used for powering Indian Railway facilities across 17 states and union territories. Depending on locations, Indian Railways will purchase power at a tariff range of $0.06 – $0.07)/kWh. Further, Indian Railways, through its partner Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL), has invited a tender for setting up 32 MW of grid-connected rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to be developed at offices, buildings, railway stations of zonal railways. The bid-submission deadline was December 21, 2017. It is expected that by 2018, the total rooftop solar installed capacity will cross 200 MW. The installation of solar rooftop will help Indian Railways (IR) in many meaningful ways. Firstly, it will help reduce peak electricity load of IR. Electricity needed to meet peak demand is normally charged at higher tariff rate. The reduction in electricity need at peak time would help reduce financial outgo on power purchase. Secondly, shifting to renewable power, will help meet India's climate change mitigation target agreed during COP 21. Thirdly, it will help development of Indian solar industries and would create green employment opportunity. Lastly, it will demonstrate financial viability of rooftop solar power project and motivate other public and private sectors to adopt similar projects. An interested private player can participate in Indian Railways' tender for setting up rooftop solar power.