Piyush Goyal may drive renewable energy initiatives in railways

Last week’s Cabinet reshuffle gave Piyush Goyal the charge of Railway Ministry and this former new and renewable energy minister is all set to boost renewable energy initiatives for Railways, reports Economic Times.

The world’s largest network is aiming to get 25 percent of its energy requirement from renewable energy sources by 2025 by setting up 5,000 MW of capacity. With the entry of a new minister, solar and wind energy companies are hopeful that Goyal would push for scaling up the target and expanding the scope of the plan.

“The new railway minister is expected to carry his passion for renewable energy to the ministry and the railways will benefit immensely from it,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman at infrastructure service provider Feedback Infra.

Railways had launched its first solar-powered DEMU (diesel electrical multiple unit) train from Safdarjung station in Delhi earlier this year. Another plan in action is to execute an idea to generate 500 MW of solar power on its land, which will power 8,000 stations.

Former Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had said that Rs 41,000 crore would be saved in ten years by increasing use of renewable energy.

Indian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity in the country, accounting for a little less than 2 percent of India’s total power generation. This also takes away money from its kitty as electricity accounts for 20 percent of Railways’ operational costs.

“Indian Railways is moving away from buying power from state-owned discoms and looking at alternative and cheaper sources,” said Divya Charen, analyst at Fitch Group’s India Ratings & Research.

She also said these companies “have even cut rates” for railways but “they will look increasingly at renewable energy for clean and cheap energy.”

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