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Indian Railway to be Net Zero Emitter by 2030

Published: 1st Nov, 2021


Recently, Indian Railways (IR) announced that it could be the world's first ‘net-zero’ carbon emitter by 2030.


  • The IR is taking a multidisciplinary approach to green and decarbonise - ranging from increasing its Renewable Energy (RE) resources to electrifying its charging network and reducing its energy consumption.
  • Indian Railways: IR is the fourth largest railway network in the world in terms of size. It is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the country.
    • Passenger Services: 24 million passengers are transported daily on a small continent by 13,000 trains that cover approximately 67,956 kilometres.
    • Freight:3 million tons of goods per day, and thus the demand for fuel is huge.
  • Contribution to Emission: India's transport sector contributes 12% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions and trains account for about 4% of this emission.
  • Possibly Reducing Opportunities: Indian Railways could increase its official asset allocation target of 50% by 2030, from its current 33% stake.
    • By moving goods to the railways and improving the use of trucks, India could reduce transportation costs from 14-10% of Gross Domestic Product and carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2050 compared to business conditions as usual.

Steps taken by Indian Railways:

  • Increased Cargo Rates: Indian Railways to increase its freight rate from about 35% in 2015 to 45% by 2030 to reduce transportation.
  • Total Electrical Installation: The full Indian Railways installation is intended for the 2024 financial year. It will be the world's largest 100% electric rail transport system at that time.
  • Solar Energy: Plans to install 20 GigaWatts (GW) solar panels on both pull and non-pull loads.
    • A 1.7-MW solar power plant was built in Bina, Madhya Pradesh, in July 2020. It is the world's first solar power plant to power railway lines directly, where trains draw gravity.
    • 5-MW solar project in Diana, Haryana.
    • The work of the third 50 MW pilot has begun in Bilai (Chhattisgarh).
    • The 16-kW solar power plant has been installed as a shelter at Sahibabad railway station.
    • The railway department has installed solar panels at more than 960 stations and uses solar energy to meet the energy needs of the railway stations.
  • Private Sector Participation: The Department incorporates the provisions of the Letter of Credit (LC) in the event of a failure to pay for the train, as well as late payment in the bid document modelling of solar energy developers.
    • This is to encourage private companies to participate in this process.

Net-Zero Emission

  • Refers to the total balance between greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • First, man-made emissions (such as those from mineral and industrial-powered vehicles) should be reduced as close to freezing as possible.
  • Second, any remaining GHG should be weighed with an equal amount of carbon removal, for example by reforestation.
  • Global Scenario:
  • As of June 2020, 20 countries and regions have adopted net-zero targets.
  • The Bhutanese state is already carbon-negative, i.e. absorbing more CO2 than it emits.
  • Indian state:
  • Individual CO2 emissions in India - by 1.8 tons per person in 2015 - are about one-third of those in the USA and about a third of the global average of 4.8 tons per person.
  • Overall, however, India is now the third largest country in the world with CO2, after China and the USA.
  • Areas of major energy sources: Energy> Industry> Forestry> Transport> Agriculture> Construction.


  • Certificate of Open Access (NoC) Certificate of Open Access to West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana has not been effective due to the challenges of controlling railways.
  • If access to free access is granted in these provinces, the use of solar energy may increase.
  • Wheel supply and banking: The full distribution of solar energy will be more effective if the provinces provide tires and banking arrangements.
  • The integration of solar purchases and non-solar purchases: The integration of solar and non-solar obligations will allow trains to meet their Renewable Purchase obligations.
  • Unlimited net measurement rules: Unlimited net measurement for solar projects on the roof can speed up the shipment of solar rail plants.

What can be done to achieve Indian Railway plans?

According to a study by NitiAayog, by shifting freight to rail and improving truck use, India could reduce travel costs from 14-10% of Gross Domestic Product and carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2050 compared to and business status as usual. Therefore, Indian Railways could use operational measures towards end-to-end communications to raise its ambition beyond the legal target of the 50% asset by 2030, from its current 33% stake.

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