Goyal: Indian Railways Plans to Invite Bids for the Development of More Solar Projects

The union railway minister also revealed that NLC India Limited plans to bid aggressively for Indian Railways’ solar projects and seeks to become a serious player in the country’s renewable sector


The Indian Railways is preparing to release tenders for the development of solar projects that will expand the company’s footprint in the Indian solar sector, according to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

Goyal reportedly said that Indian Railways will start an aggressive bidding process soon for the expansion of its solar footprint, according to the PTI. While this is good news for component manufacturers, it may not please private companies if the development business is going to NLC a government owned entity.

He added that state-owned NLC India Limited (formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited) is planning to bid aggressively for Indian Railways solar projects.

“NLC India Limited is also having very aggressive plans and will be bidding very aggressively to try and get those contracts through the bidding process,” Goyal said, according to PTI reports.

The affordability of renewable energy has prompted the Indian Railways to announce plans to set up about 1,000 MW of solar and 200 MW of wind power projects by 2020-21. Indian Railways operates more than 8,000 railway stations across India and is one of the largest consumers of electricity nationally.

The planned tender announcement comes just a few months after the Indian Railways awarded a total of 30 MW of rooftop solar contracts to two firms in October 2017.

In August 2017, Indian Railways also successfully auctioned off the development of another 67.38 MW of rooftop solar projects through the Railway Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL), a joint venture of the Ministry of Railways Ltd. owned by Indian Railways and RITES Limited.

In May 2017, Mercom reported that the Neyveli Lignite Corporation – now NLC India Limited – had tendered two solar projects of 10 MW each with a 28 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) in South Andaman.

“They (NLC India Limited) are also having discussions and dialogues with Indian Railways,” the minister added.

In July 2017, Indian Railways also tendered a 709 MW solar engineering, procurement, and construction contract for a project in the state of Tamil Nadu and just last month NLC India Limited successfully commissioned another 130 MW solar project in Tamil Nadu’s Neyveli township.

Commenting on NLC India Limited’s increasing footprint in the solar sector, the minister said that the company has begun investing in solar projects across the country in order to become a serious player in the country’s clean energy sector.

“In renewable energy, they already have about 191 MW today. It will become 300 MW by March 2018; and by 2025 it’s actually 4,251 MW that they are planning. So, almost 24 percent of their 13,700 MW will be renewable energy,” Goyal added. According to Mercom India Solar Project Tracker, NLC India has the largest pipeline of utility-scale solar projects currently with over 1 GW in India.

Goyal also urged the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government to approve the transfer of the state’s Raghunathpur thermal power project from DVC to NLC India Limited for faster completion and commissioning.

According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, West Bengal is one of the least-developed solar states in India with an installed large-scale solar capacity of 57 MW. The state depends heavily on coal-fired power generation to meet its increasing energy needs. However, the state has begun to realize the benefits of renewable power and recently the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) tendered a 10 MW grid‑connected PV project to be developed in Bhajanghat in the state’s Nadia district.

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Ankita Rajeshwari Ankita is an editor at MercomIndia.com where she writes and edits clean energy news stories and features. With years of experience in the news business, Ankita has a nose for news and an eye for detail. Prior to Mercom, Ankita was associated with The Times of India as a copy editor for the organization’s digital news desk. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Delhi University and a Postgraduate Diploma in journalism. More articles from Ankita Rajeshwari.