New Delhi: With the union cabinet approving the complete electrification of broad-gauge railway tracks by 2022, power demand by Indian Railways is set to double in the next four years. The power requirement for broad gauge will increase from 2,000 megawatts (MW) to 3,400MW, while the two dedicated freight corridors will require another 600MW, according to a railway official, requesting anonymity.
Power will be procured by Railway Energy Management Co. Ltd (REMCL), a joint venture of the Indian Railways and RITES Ltd.
Set up in 2013, REMCL is primarily responsible for tapping the business potential of the energy sector. It currently caters to 60% of railways’ power needs.
“As per our estimates, broad-gauge electrification will increase power demand from present 2,000MW to 3,400MW. The 2,000MW is only for train operations and if we add non-traction consumption like use of electricity at workshops, railway stations, offices, etc., we will need to add another 400MW," said a senior railway official mentioned above.
“Railways will be exploring long-term power purchase agreements given that higher demand will increase tariffs by 25-30 paise per unit. Besides, we may also set up more independent power plants or joint ventures, too." He added that railways will look to procure power through open access.
Indian Railways is one of the largest railway networks in the world with 67,368 km of tracks and 22,550 trains, which carry 22.24 million passengers and 3.04 million tonnes of freight every day. At present, the railways consume 18.5 billion units of electricity every year. Out of this 16 billion units is for running trains, while the remaining 2.5 billion units are for running other utilities such as railway stations, workshops and railways offices.
Indian Railways uses energy from both renewable and non-renewable resources. It is setting up various renewable energy power plants through its subsidiary REMCL, including 1,000MW of solar power and 200MW of wind power.
Out of 1,000MW solar power, contracts for 120MW of solar roof top have already been awarded, 400MW is under negotiations with the Madhya Pradesh government, 50MW from Chhattisgarh is being procured and a 100MW solar roof top will soon be up for bidding. Besides, two wind mill plants—26MW and 10.5 MW—are already commissioned, while 16.5MW is expected to be commissioned by the year end.
A 54MW of wind power plant by REMCL is also in the pipeline.
When contacted, REMCL chairman and managing director Rajeev Mehrotra refused to comment on specifics, but said: “We are geared to handle all future power needs of the railways."
Last week, the union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the railways’ proposal to electrify 108 sections covering 13,675 route kilometre of tracks for ₹ 12,134 crore. The proposal, which is the brainchild of railway minister Piyush Goyal, is expected to save ₹ 13,510 crore per annum in fuel costs. Railways electrification includes broad gauge tracks and not 3,479km of metre gauge and 2,209km of narrow gauge. According to Goyal, complete railway electrification will have a significant impact on train safety, capacity and speed.