Indian Railways has requested for funding from National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) for installation of solar photovoltaic power plants aggregating to 4 mw capacity at different Indian Railway Locations. Railways has sought for financial assistance of Rs. 36.86 crore from NCEF for installation of solar PV systems in 1020 Railway locations.
The proposal includes setting up of 10 kw solar photovoltaic modules with battery back up at 150 railway stations having long duration of power cuts and having dependence on diesel generator sets. These solar PV panels will be used for normal supply while existing DISCOM supply will be used for backup. At 850 manned un-electrified level crossing gates, 640 WP solar photovoltaic modules with battery backup is proposed to be set up at each gate. The proposal also includes setting up of 100 kw solar photovoltaic modules without battery backup, each at 16 Administrative office buildings of Zonal Railway headquarters and 3 Administrative office buildings of Production Units. Another 45 kw at Research Design and Standards Organisation, which depends on diesel generator sets during longer power cuts, is planned.
Giving its justification for the project, Indian Railways informed the Inter-ministerial Group constituted to appraise the projects under NCEF, that there are 8241 stations of different categories across Indian Railway. Electric power supply at remote stations tends to be erratic and power cuts can vary from 3 to 10 hrs. Presently, in the event of power supply failure, DG sets are operated to cater to the most essential loads required for train operation & passenger amenities. To reduce the running of DG sets and to provide reliable power supply, it is proposed to provide solar panels and battery back-up at the stations.
Further, Indian Railways stated that policy guidelines for electrification of manned level crossing gate through solar based lighting system already exist in places where electricity from state electricity board is not available within 1 km. There are about 33,706 level crossings, out of which only about 14,559 are manned. So far only 3,023 level crossings have been provided with solar based lighting by Indian Railways. To achieve safety targets, about 850 manned level crossing gates across different zonal railways are planned to be electrified through solar based lighting system.
With regards to lighting the administrative offices of Indian Railways with solar PV modules, it informed that in the event of power supply failure, DG sets are operated to cater to the most essential loads in several administrative offices across Indian Railways. These solar PV panels will be used for normal supply while existing DISCOM supply will be used for backup.
According to Railways, implementation of this project is expected to result in complete elimination of the running of DG sets during power cut periods, as supply at stations will be provided through solar PV modules. In its proposal to the IMG, Railways mentioned that the cash flow including expected savings due to non running of DG sets show that the proposals are commercially viable in terms of savings achieved, after taking into account NCEF funding.
The complete project is expected to cost Rs. 92.06 crore. The project is scheduled to be completed by March 2014. The Letter of Award for the project is expected by October 2012.