Rlys bank upon thermal, wind power generation

The railways plan to have another thermal power plant even as their Nabinagar project, to come up in a joint venture with country’s largest power producer NTPC Ltd, has remained a non-starter. In addition to thermal power generation, the railways also have mega plans for wind power generation, for which they are looking for suitable locations in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

The railways are in the process of hiring consultants for chalking out a captive power generation plan, which is likely to include thermal power generation for running trains and power from non-conventional sources for railway stations, sources said.

The Indian Railways consumes about 14 million units of electricity every year, at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore. The plan will also aim at reducing this cost.

The 1,000-Mw Nabinagar project in Bihar has been delayed due to problems relating to land acquisition, Chandan Roy, NTPC director (operations), told Business Standard. NTPC is a 74 per cent equity partner in Bharatiya Rail Bijlee Company, the joint venture that is implementing the project, with the railways holding the remaining 26 per cent stake. “We have not been able to meet the original schedule for the plant due to delay in land acquisition,” said Roy, adding that all other clearances were in place.

A railway official said the department was putting in equity of only Rs 417 crore in the Nabinagar project, while it would save Rs 400 crore annually when the plant became operational. The total project cost is Rs 1,605 crore.

Roy said the order for the main plant of the project had already been placed with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL). The company expects to get 74-750 acres out of the 1,342 acres required for the project by August-end. The balance land is expected to be acquired by October. “Though a plant of 1,000-Mw capacity takes about 36-40 months to be constructed, we would work out the schedule for the plant only after the entire land has been acquired,” said Roy.

On the non-conventional energy front, the railways’ foray has been more successful with its 10-Mw wind farm in Chennai becoming operational last March. Suzlon had helped the railways put up the plant.