New Delhi: As part of India’s strategy to combat climate change, Indian Railways will become "net zero" carbon emitter by 2030, said railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday.
India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Meanwhile, the national carrier has a rail network of around 125,000km, making it the world’s largest railway network under a single management. It also has large tracts of land along its network, which will be used to set up solar power generation capacities.
As the country prepares to curb pollution and cut its dependence on foreign oil, India has become one of the top renewable energy producers globally with ambitious capacity expansion plans. The country has an installed renewable energy capacity of about 80 gigawatts (GW) and is running the world’s largest renewable energy programme, with plans to achieve 175GW by 2022 and 500GW by 2030, as part of its climate commitments.
Speaking at the India Energy Forum by CERAWEEK, Goyal said while there may be challenges, the net total consumption will be all green.
“We have had discussions, we welcome it," said power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh at the same conference.
This assumes significance given that with a requirement of about 12 billion units of electricity a year, Indian Railways’ power consumption has been growing at an average 5% a year. The railways plans to source 10% of its electricity needs through renewable energy sources by 2020.
Railway infrastructure will need an overall investment of Rs50 lakh crore between 2018 and 2030. The investment will also help bring down logistic costs. India has been grappling with high logistics costs of 16-18%, making its exports uncompetitive vis-а-vis China, which has lower logistics costs of 8-10%.
Goyal added that by 2023, Indian Railways will be 100% electrically run, the first such railways system of its size in the world to do so.
Indian Railways employs a staggering 1.4 million people. It runs around 20,849 trains daily and transports 23 million passengers and three million tonnes of freight. It operates 10,773 locomotives, 63,046 coaches and 245,000 wagons.
From electrification of 610 route km in 2013-14, the railways has completed electrification of 4,087 route km in 2017-18. A complete electrification of Broad Gauge Routes of Indian Railways is targeted by 2021-22.
Railways will be an integral part of the Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’ path towards climate justice, Goyal said.
This comes at a time when India’s emerging green economy is expected to require investments of around $80 billion till 2022, growing more than threefold to $250 billion during 2023-30.