Indian Railways to invest Rs 180 bn on solar power units along tracks

January 2019

The Indian Railways is reportedly in plans to come up with solar power tenders of 4 GW in order to cut down on its power purchase costs and utilise the vast stretches of linear land along the tracks with greater efficiency.

The bid are expected to be open up business opportunities of about Rs 180 billion for domestic solar industry consisting of equipment makers and plant installers. The tenders, which will be invited by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), is expected to be issued in two tranches of 2 GW each to be built across 10 states. Reviewed by FE, the framework document for the project reportedly proposes that the first tranche would be for solar plants in Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana and Rajasthan while the remaining capacity would be set up in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

At present, the railways requires 16 billion units of electricity every year and spend around Rs 100 billion on electricity every year with the average per unit cost being around Rs 6 per unit.

Railways pays tariffs as high as Rs 10.52 per unit, Rs 9.13 per unit and Rs 8.33 per unit in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan, respectively.

The 4 GW project would need developers to build 1.2 GW of domestic solar manufacturing capacity. The projects would be reportedly designed to use the transmission system built for railway traction.