Rail solar policy may target 1k mW

Rail solar policy may target 1k mW

The coming rail budget may give priority to green energy, including solar, windmill, and bio-diesel. The budget may include a solar policy.

It may also give more attention to conservation and efficiency measures by introducing energy-efficient lighting and equipment, and deployment of new generation electric locomotive and Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs).

Sources said rail minister Suresh Prabhu sat with the newly constituted Directorate of Environment this week to shortlist priorities for green initiatives. The directorate, which has a full time director as well as representatives from all sectors of the railways, is believed to have suggested lighting up more and more stations and level crossings with solar energy.

The policy will decide on the mechanism to generate 1,000 mW solar power in the next five years. This will be done through viability gap funding with support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The MNRE funds 30 per cent of the cost of solar energy projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Railways will also tap other central finance schemes, besides the public private partnership (PPP) route, to install solar panels.

“It is essential to move towards such energy sources like solar energy at stations and level crossings to avoid accidents and other untoward incidents because electric supply is at times erratic,” an official said.

In addition to installing solar panels at level crossings, the railways proposes to use rooftops of office buildings, hospitals, workshops, etc. to install solar plants. The Railways also want to have solar water heating facilities at training institutes, and retiring rooms.

Windmill energy will be an area of emphasis. The Railways is currently funding joint venture and public private partnership (PPP) projects to the tune of Rs 48 crore. This is likely to be increased. The railways have planned to harness 168 mW from windmill plants. Of this, 157.5 mW will be from joint ventures/PPPs. 

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