The Railways has set a target of utilising at least 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources and has accordingly planned to set up separate solar and wind power plants over the next four years. Addressing consultative committee of MPs here, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that Railways being a “significant” consumer of energy, identifying cost-effective options to achieve and realise an energy system with least environmental impacts is “essential”. “Vision 2020 document of the Indian Railways states that the key target is to utilise at least 10 percent of its energy requirement from renewable sources.
As a part of this, Indian Railways has planned to set up 1000 MW solar power plant and about 200 MW of wind power plants by 2020 across Zonal Railways & Productions Units,” an official statement said. The Ministry said its first major feat was achieved in ‘Harnessing Green Energy on Railways’ when a 10.5 MW capacity wind power plant was set up in 2009 by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai- the first green production unit of the Railways. The next significant step was setting up of 26 MW solar power plant commissioned in 2016 at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan in North Western Railway (NWR), it said. As of now, the Railway is already harnessing 50 MW green energy from solar and wind power plants including harnessing solar energy at rooftop of stations and service buildings.
This includes 500 KW each on Varanasi, Katra, Jaipur, Kolkata Metro and Secunderabad Railway Stations. Chairing the meeting, Prabhu noted the cost of producing solar energy is gradually becoming less, but there are still issues related to its storage. “…globally there are efforts going on for developing storage technologies and a breakthrough is likely to be achieved soon. We are also using biodiesel by blending it in a small percentage with the diesel,” he said. The Minister informed the Parliamentarian that the other activity the Railways has taken towards use of renewable energy is replacement of conventional light sources with LED light sources which is more energy efficient and more environmental friendly.
He said producing energy through waste and biomass are other options which need to be looked into. The Minister also pointed out that Railways has already done energy audit and working for more energy efficient system. Referring to station redevelopment, Prabhu pointed out that the Ministry has recently signed an MoU with Urban Development Ministry for redeveloping stations along with the smart cities. He also said that Railways is taking many green initiatives like bio toilets, waste recycling, revival of water bodies and plantation along the tracks and will continue to take such measures. The panel members gave several suggestions for increasing the production of solar and wind energy. In addition, the members also mentioned various pending projects in their respective constituencies and requested for expediting them. They also made request for some new lines, passenger amenities and some new train services pertaining to their respective areas.