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Wind solar power cut coal traffic at port railway yard

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With Tangedco’s shift to renewable energy, Kamarajar Port turns to other cargos

The reliance on renewable energy (wind and solar power) by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has reduced coal traffic at the Kamarajar port in Ennore and railway yards, according to officials.

According to data from the port, coal handling fell 10% or by over 2 million tonnes in 2016-17 compared to 2015-16. It remained almost flat in 2017-18. The State has major thermal plants in Ennore.

V. Krishnaswamy, General Manager, Operations, said the port’s cargo handling peaked at 32.21 million tonnes in 2015-16, mainly driven by coal. However, it stagnated at 30.02 million tonnes in 2016-17 and 30.45 million tonnes in 2017-18 respectively due to a fall in coal traffic, he added. Mr. Krishnaswamy attributed the decline to the dependence on wind and solar energy.

Industry sources pointed out that with wind and solar tariffs dropping in the last two years, State utilities across the country were reluctant to sign short-term power purchase agreements with private thermal power plants.

S Anantharaman, Principal Chief Operations Manager, Southern Railway, said because of the shift towards renewable energy, Tangedco’s coal movement by rail dropped to 4.5 million tonne in 2016-17 from 8.5 million in 2015-16.

The fall in coal traffic is forcing the Kamarajar port to rethink its strategy and diversify into other cargos.

“Coal is what makes our performance go up or down. We are reducing our dependence on coal and moving away to other cleaner cargos like automobile and liquid cargo,” Rinkesh Roy, Chairman and Managing Director, Kamarajar Port Ltd said.

He pointed out that the 5 million capacity LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal at the port would be operational by September or October and it would handle the future fuel of the world. The port had been investing heavily to get the infrastructure ready for diversification, he added.

Capacity Addition

In the next four years, the port will add 28 million tonnes of capacity to take the total capacity to nearly 60 million tonnes from around 36 million tonnes now with an aggregate investment of around Rs. 10,000 crores, he said, including improving rail links.

In another effort by the port towards diversification, automobile firms would soon start moving their cars and trucks via the rail route at the Kamarajar Port, he said.

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