Solar Energy – Opportunities in Rail Sector

The Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the  Seminar on “Solar Energy – opportunities in Rail Sector”.  This Seminar has been organized by Institution of Railway Electrical Engineers (IREE), Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) under the aegis of United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF). Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A. K. Mital, Member Electrical, Railway Board and Patron IREE, Shri Navin Tandon, Managing Director, DMRC Dr. Mangu Singh, Country Director, UNDP-India Shri Jaco Cilliers other Members of the Railway Board, Shri Sunil Goyal, Chief Electrical Engineer, Northern Railway and General Secretary, IREE, Senior Officials of Ministry of Railways were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railway Shri Suresh Prabhu said that the fossile fuel which is the predominant source of energy has met the energy needs of the human beings in a big way. However, the extensive use of fossile fuel has been causing irreparable damage to eco system leading to climate change and global warming and hence global efforts are being made to work on alternative options and develop a suitable energy mix for meeting crucial energy needs. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railway is naturally a green mode of transport – we want to make it further greener by adopting renewal energy as a major source of energy for railways.  Indian Railways is the single biggest consumer of energy and hence it is imperative that Railways must look towards alternative sources of energy.  He pointed out that Indian Railways has targeted large scale harnessing of renewable energy, mainly solar and wind energy as well as adoption of energy efficient measures, to reduce electricity consumption.  The Minister said that it has already been announced in this year’s Railway Budget that Indian Railways will be setting up 1000 MW Solar Plants in next five years and the suitable initiatives for implementing this have been undertaken. Shri Suresh Prabhu said that Railways has already initiated the process of using rooftop of railway buildings for generating solar power. We have also taken innovative initiative for harnessing solar energy by putting solar panels on the roof of railway coaches. Such initiatives are to be taken forward and expanded to make game changer. We are considering developing solar power generation under PPP model.  He said there is a need to work on both solar voltaic cell and solar thermal way of generating solar energy.  There is also need for storage of technology.  The Minister said that Railway should take lead in reducing the carbon footprint and also work to earn more carbon credits. He hoped that the deliberations & presentations will help Railways to come out with a long term policy and road map for harnessing solar energy.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital said that the earth’s climate is changing and such climatic change can have major impact on households, businesses, critical infrastructure such as transport, energy etc. We must, therefore, take measures to address the issue of climate change on priority. One of the ways to counter the menace of global warming would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As we are all aware, in the light of depletion of traditional sources of energy and increasing green house gases emission there is a greater need to focus on the use of renewable sources of energy. Therefore a paradigm shift to meet our energy need is a must, incorporating a judicial mix of power from conventional sources and from renewable technologies. Usage of renewable energy by Indian Railways will provide energy security to the organization. A good strategy would be to evolve its own supporting energy system, consisting of renewal energy sources. There are various renewable energy options for the Indian Railways such as power from wind and solar, and bio fuels.  Wind and solar energies can be the major players to meet Traction and non Traction power requirements of railways.

Speaking on the occasion, Member Electrical, Railway Board and Patron, IREE, Shri Navin Tandon said that the challenges before Indian Railway today in achieving the aim of using renewable energy resources include the following (a) There is a need to take up feasibility assessments (b) Identify appropriate technologies, (c) Streamline procedures for utilizing and engaging private sector (d) Develop financing models for large scale solar deployment in Indian Railways, (e) Need to have proper line of credit modality, option of concessional loan mechanism through IRFC/REMC/IREDA, (f) Building capacities,

Shri Tandon further said that the Indian Railways is fully geared up to take up the challenge of ‘Global Warming’. With policy support from the government, Indian Railways will surely bring about positive changes on the energy front and will be a lead organization showing a path of taking care of increasing energy requirement with reduced carbon foot prints and thereby providing solutions towards growth with sustainability. IR due to its wide visibility can act as catalyst in accelerating use of renewal energy across the country & thereby bringing large scale social and environmental changes.

Managing Director, DMRC Dr. Mangu Singh, Country Director, UNDP-India Shri Jaco Cilliers also spoke on the occasion.

Eminent personalities from renowned Institution of Railways, DMRC and Ministries are sharing their experience through their papers in the Seminar.  The seminar has been divided in three technical sessions namely (i) Solar energy – Issue & Option for Rail Sector (ii) Technological Developments & New Trends in Solar System & (iii) Financial & commercial sustainability  – Economic, social & environment aspects of Solar energy in Rail Sector.

More than 300 delegates all over India, Railways, Industries and & other PSUs and Institutions are participating in the seminar.

BACKGROUND BRIEF : –

Indian Railways consumes about 18 billion units of electrical energy per annum for its traction and non-traction applications. Indian Railways, in its endeavour to counter the menace of global warming has targeted large scale harnessing of renewable energy, mainly solar and wind energy, in addition to adoption of energy efficient technologies. Accordingly Hon’ble Minister for Railways in his budget speech had announced a target of installing 1000 mega watt solar power in Railways in next 5 years.

IR has already installed about 21 MW of solar and wind plants. In addition  provision of 10 KWp solar PV modules at 200 stations under various Zonal Railways, provision of 4.05 MWp solar photovoltaic (SPV) at roof top of 21 Railway office buildings and provision of total 1.3 MWp capacity solar photovoltaic plants at 2000 level crossing gates is in progress. Railways are providing Grid / off grid connected solar panels on the Divisional and Zonal headquarters, maintenance depots, sheds and workshops. In this direction Railway have set up a grid connected 1 MW solar power plant at Katra Railway station, which is second largest roof top plant in the country.  Further solar power systems at all major Railway stations and stations of Tourist importance have been planned. The generation of solar supply will help Railways supply power at remote locations and achieve saving on diesel consumption due to reduced running of diesel generators.

In addition Indian Railway had successfully commissioned a 10.5 MW Wind Mill which is supplying power to ICF, Chennai, and plans to take the total capacity of wind mills to more than 150 MW.

Normally for solar units availability of land is an issue; however IR has available land stretches & rooftop spaces on railway buildings, workshops, stations, residential building etc. In addition Railways, can also take up setting up solar power plants on wasteland, empty yards, alongside Railway Tracks, Railway coaches in due course of time.

Investments in solar energy are generally characterized by relatively high up-front capital and low operating costs accordingly there is a need for developing appropriate business models

This seminar can offer unique initiative which will build capacity, explore and identify best technologies, develop financing models for large scale solar deployment in Indian Railways.

IndianBureaucracy.com visualises a lot of potential to generate Solar Energy using the help of PSU and Govt Depts and the land that they have at their disposal.

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