Railways can’t depend on coal for electricity: Suresh Prabhu

Government will have to conduct energy audits to keep a check over emissions 

By Aruna Kumarankandath
Published: Wednesday 26 August 2015
Solar energy
Solar energy Solar energy

In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of Indian Railways, Union minister Suresh Prabhu has announced that the Centre might soon set up solar thermal plants on the land owned by the sector.

Railways is one of the largest consumers of coal and electricity in the country and 23 per cent of the ministry’s expenditure is on energy—with coal and electricity combined.

The minister announced this while speaking at India Business and Climate Summit 2015, jointly organised by World Resource Institute (WRI) India, Confederation of India Industry (CII) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

“We are studying the feasibility of such projects on our lands. We are considering developing solar power generation under public-private partnership model,” said Prabhu.

Presently, India has only three operating solar thermal power plants—Godawari Green Energy Limited’s parabolic trough-based plant in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (50 MW), a linear Fresnel plant of Reliance Power (Rajasthan Sun Technique) in Jaisalmer (100 MW) and a parabolic trough-based plant owned by Megha Engineering and Infrastructure in Ananthapur district, Andhra Pradesh (50 MW).

In August 2014, Railways had proposed to install rooftop solar systems at their buildings and residential colonies and initiated replacement of energy inefficient bulbs with LED lamps in the offices. There were reports about putting solar panels on the roof of railway coaches. "There is a need to work towards reducing carbon emissions. We cannot continue to depend on the traditional sources of energy like coal if we have to reduce carbon emissions,” said the minister. He further added that they would have to find innovative ways and use technology efficiently to do that. The need to conduct energy audits to keep a control on emissions and the effective use of electricity were also emphasised on.

Speaking at the meeting, Forbes Marshall director and CII president designate Naushad Forbes said, "Around 42 per cent of India's greenhouse gas emissions come from energy generation and about 76 per cent of that energy is consumed by industrial and commercial users. Accurate measurement is the first step to mitigation."

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