Conference on 100% Decarbonisation of IR with Sustainable Electrification

Experts to discuss sustainable 100% electrification of Railways. Indian Railways aims to significantly reduce carbon footprints, as Decarbonisation is a more cost-effective alternative for the Railways in the long run! The conference is hosted by Indian Railways Institute of Electrical Engineering and industry body ASSOCHAM

New Delhi: Fully electrifying the Railways network may be unthinkable as of now, but it never hurts to brainstorm on how to go about it. And that’s what Railways and industry officials are expected to do in a conference on Thursday, termed as ‘100 per cent Decarbonisation of Indian Railways with Sustainable Electrification’.

The effort is to dovetail complete electrification of the railway network to the overall strategy of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, where India pledged to cut emissions by 33-35 per cent by 2030, from the 2005 level.

Upgrading technology

The conference, hosted by the Indian Railways Institute of Electrical Engineering and industry body Assocham, will also look at ways for the Railways to get investments for technology upgradation, including the use of renewable energy, and is expected to be inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Railway Ministers of State Manoj Sinha and Rajen Gohain. Representatives from Korean and European firms, such as Alstom and Siemens, are expected to join the brainstorming session.

Meanwhile, the Railways Ministry is also looking to adopt different methodologies and technologies that would require less energy to carry the same amount of total traffic, said sources. This can be done by adopting more energy-efficient locomotives where more power goes to wheels. One way is to use locomotives with regenerative braking power, something that the Railways’ production unit, Chittaranjan Locomotives Works, is already doing.

Another solution is to use lighter wagons and coaches, which basically allows using the same power to pull more freight load and passengers with the same energy.

On the eve of the event, Prabhu is also expected to meet honchos from the science and technology and electricity sectors, including the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission Chairman, Power Secretaries of various States, and Planning Commission members.

Buying power

Incidentally, the Railways, which has a deemed electrification status, has been trying to buy electricity directly from State governments to lower its fuel bill, for which it requires approvals from the States.

India has set a target for transitioning to non-fossil fuel-based energy with 40 per cent of cumulative electricity generation capacity through renewable energy by 2030.

As on August 31, rail electrification covered 28,416 route km. It is looking to use at least 10 per cent of renewable energy for non-traction use by 2020.

Indian Railways is the largest consumer of energy and use of green energy will definitely reduce carbon footprint, Garg said.

It consumes 13.8 billion units of electricity annually, close to two per cent of the country’s total power production. It has taken steps to install solar power systems at all major stations in the country.

The generation of solar energy will also help the Railways supply power to remote areas and help save on diesel consumption due to reduced use of diesel-run generators.

In addition, Railways has commissioned a 10.5 MW wind mill, which supplies power to the Integrated Integral Coach Factory at Chennai, and plans to take the total capacity of wind mills to 150 MW.

To increase the solar power generation, Railways is using land stretches and rooftop spaces on railway buildings, workshops, stations, residential building.

Besides, it may also set up solar power plants on wastelands, empty yards alongside tracks.

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