Indian Railways to Invite Bids for 4GW Solar Project For Powering Locomotives

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The tender, estimated to be worth Rs 16,000 crore, is expected shortly. Railways currently buys electricity at an average cost of Rs 5 per unit, but solar power will cost less.

Indian Railways will soon run trains using solar power from arrays of photovoltaic cells deployed on both sides of select electrified tracks in 10 states, replacing 4,000 MW of coal-fired electricity in its bid to become a green transporter. 

People from the government aware of the development told TOI that the Railway Board is examining the project bid document prepared by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), stipulating local manufacturing for 1,200 MW of equipment under the ‘Make In India’ initiative. The tender, estimated to be worth Rs 16,000 crore, is expected shortly.

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Roadmap ahead

The sources informed the English Daily that under the proposal, Railways will offer vacant land, often threatened by encroachment, on both sides of the identified tracks. The promoters will make the investment on solar panels and other equipment. The investment will be recovered from sale of power. Railways currently buys electricity at an average cost of Rs 5 per unit, but solar power will cost less. 

The project is expected to promote manufacturing of 25 kV single-phase inverters which are so far limited to smaller-capacity rooftop segment. The sources further informed that some 20 manufacturers, including ABB, Huawei, Delta and Sungrow, have expressed willingness to make such equipment if there is enough demand.

Railways will consume the total output from the project and may make arrangement for energy banking with states. Under the arrangement, surplus solar power can be supplied to the state utilites, which will supply equivalent power when railways need it.

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