Speaking on the occasion Minister of Railways said that with the Indian Railways being a significant consumer of energy, identifying cost-effective options to achieve and realize an energy system with least environmental impacts is essential. Vision 2020 document of the Indian Railways states that the key target is to utilize at least 10% 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. The 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 the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai-a premier Production Unit of Indian Railways, making ICF the ‘First Green Production Unit’ of Indian Railways. The next significant effort was setting up of 26 MegaWatt Solar Power Plant commissioned in 2016 at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan in North Western Railway (NWR). As of now, Railway is already harnessing 50MW 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.
Referring to the challenges in the field of solar energy the Minister said that firstly its cost of production is gradually becoming less and but there are still issues of storage of solar energy. He pointed out that globally there are efforts going on for developing storage technologies and a breakthrough is likely to be achieved soon. He said that we are also using biodiesel by blending it in a small percentage with the diesel. The other important activity which Railways has done is replacement of conventional light sources with LED light sources which is more energy efficient and more environmental friendly. He said that the 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 the station redevelopment, Shri Suresh Prabhu pointed out that Ministry of Railways has recently signed an MoU with Ministry of Urban Development for redeveloping stations along with the smart cities. Shri Suresh Prabhu also said that Indian Railways is taking many green initiatives like bio toilets, waste recycling, revival of water bodies, plantation along the tracks, etc and will continue to take such measures.
Several members of the committee applauded Railway Ministry’s efforts on using Green Energy. It was pointed out that Railways is in anyway an environment friendly mode of transportation. The members gave several suggestions for increasing the production of solar and wind energy. In addition 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.