Indian Railways labouring for cleaner and greener roll by 2030 with net-zero carbon emissions

solar powered trains

Indian Railways is the fourth-largest rail network in the world and creates a colossal carbon footprint with daily operations. However, it aspires to become a ‘net-zero’ carbon emitter by the year 2030 by applying all-inclusive changes to the way it operates.

Indian Railways consumes a gigantic amount of electricity for traction (running trains) as well as non-traction (offices, railway stations etc) activities and spends nearly INR 11 crore each year on electricity bills. Along with 24 million passengers each day, it also transports 3.3 million tonnes of freight, running over ~68,000kms each day. Not just electricity but it also uses a whopping quantity of ~110 lakh kilolitres of high-speed diesel each year, contributing to about 4% of the country’s carbon emissions each year.

Bringing sustainability via a multi-faceted approach

Electrifying the network

  • Railways plans to completely electrify the entire railway network by 2023, initiating an increase in the total traction requirement to 3,400 megawatt.
  • Once successfully operational, the Indian Railways will be world’s first to be 100% electrified. This will also significantly decrease the diesel consumption.

Increasing sources of renewable energy

  • The organization plans to install 20 gigawatt of solar plants for both traction and non-traction loads on its vacant lands.
  • A 1.7 megawatt solar power plant has already been set up in Bina, Madhya Pradesh in July 2020, which is the world’s first solar power plant to directly power railway overhead lines for locomotives to draw traction power from. It was set up in collaboration with State owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL).
  • Another 2.5 megawatt solar project has been initiated in Diwana, Haryana along with a 3rd one with 50 megawatt capacity in Bhilai, Chattisgarh.
  • The power plant in Bhilai will be used to power trains and will not induce any interstate transmission fee.
  • In a pioneer move, a 16 kilowatt solar power plant has been installed and doubled as platform shelter at the Sahibabad railway station by Central Electronics Ltd. This will not only reduce the cost of platform shelters but also the cost of setting up separate power plants, while meeting the non-traction power demand.
  • The Railways Ministry has installed solar panels over 960 stations and is using solar power to meet railway station energy needs. Expanding this to 550 other stations is also a work-in-progress.

The Railways Ministry is also making efforts to stimulate private sector investments in the plan to revamp operations. The transformation towards cleaner railway operations and optimal use of roadways will not only benefit by decreasing the overall logistics cost of the economy but will also shrink the annual carbon emissions of the Indian logistics and supply chain sector.          

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