Experts to discuss sustainable 100% electrification of Railways

| Updated on: Nov 01, 2016
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The conference is hosted by Indian Railways Institute of Electrical Engineering and industry body Assocham

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.

Published on January 15, 2018

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