The Railway Ministry has asked its officials to consider the potential of accessing subsidy schemes and fiscal incentives offered under the wind power programme as well as the National Solar Mission for use of renewable energy in the sector.
Ministry sources in the know told Business Line that, “The Railways can look at projects of harnessing solar or wind energy for feeding emergency lighting load and electrification of level-crossing gates in this backdrop.”
The Railways commissioned windmills at Kasturirangapuram and Urumangalam village, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, on March 30, 2009, to generate 10.5 MW. The windmill farm was set up at a cost of Rs 66.05 crore.
By drawing 16.3 million unit of energy over a seven-month period from the windmills commissioned in Tirunelveli for the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur, Chennai, the Railways says it saved Rs 5 crore.
The Railways has provided solar-based water heating systems of different capacities for some training institutes, running rooms and rest houses. It has completed electrification of more than 1,200 manned level crossings with solar-based lighting system.
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Mr Farooq Abdullah, has written to the Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, saying that alternative sources of energy should be promoted.
The Minister’s letter was based on the observations made by a consultant appointed by his Ministry to study the areas where renewable energy can be used for railway applications.
“Railway establishments are vast. The alternative sources of energy can be used at stations, staff quarters as well as for catering activities,” sources said.
The Ministry for New and Renewable Energy has introduced generation-based incentive for wind power projects with a capacity addition target of 4,000 MW during the Eleventh Plan period. The National Solar Mission has also been launched.
“Investments in renewable power projects are made mainly by private developers to whom the project sites are allotted by State governments. The Centre facilitatES the setting up of such projects through generation-based incentives apart from applicable fiscal incentives. In addition, attractive tariff regimes are being offered by state utilities,” official sources said.
A package of fiscal and financial incentives is available under the wind power programme which includes concessions such as 80 per cent accelerated depreciation, concessional Customs duty on specified items, excise duty exemption, sales tax exemption, and income-tax exemption for 10 years, among others.
The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) provides loan for setting up wind power projects.
A potential for wind power generation of around 48,000 MW has been estimated in the country, in areas having minimum wind power density of 200 watts per sq. metre and assuming land availability of one per cent in such areas. The potential for solar energy is estimated for most parts of the country at around 20 MW per sq. km of open, shadow free area covered with solar collectors.