Indian Railway to be Net Zero Emitter by 2030 GS – 2 Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Government Policies & Interventions, Infrastructure

Indian Railway to be Net Zero Emitter by 2030 GS – 2 Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Government Policies & Interventions, Infrastructure


Recently, Indian Railways (IR) has announced that it is likely to become world’s first ‘net-zero’ carbon emitter by 2030. Railways is taking a multi-pronged approach to go green and decarbonise – from increasing its sourcing of Renewable Energy (RE) to electrifying its traction network and reducing its energy consumption.


It refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.

  • First, human-caused emissions (like those from fossil-fueled vehicles and factories) should be reduced as close to zero as possible.

  • Second, any remaining GHGs should be balanced with an equivalent amount of carbon removal, for example by restoring forests.

Global Scenario: As of June 2020, twenty countries and regions have adopted net-zero targets. The Kingdom of Bhutan is already carbon-negative, i.e. absorbs more CO2 than it emits.

Indian Scenario: India’s per capita CO2 emissions – at 1.8 tonnes per person in 2015 – are around a ninth of those in the USA and around a third of the global average of 4.8 tonnes per person. However, overall, India is now the planet’s third-largest emitter of CO2, behind China and the USA. Sectors that are the largest emitters: Energy>Industry>Forestry>Transport>Agriculture>Building.


Indian Railways: IR is the world’s fourth largest railway network in terms of size. It is one of the largest electricity consumers in the country. Transports 24 million passengers every day across the subcontinent on 13,000 trains covering approximately 67,956 km. 3.3 million tonnes of freight per day, and thus the fuel requirements are massive.

Contribution in Total Emissions: India’s transport sector contributes to 12% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions with the railways accounting for about 4% of these emissions. The Indian Railways can raise the official target of 50% freight share by 2030, up from its current share of 33%.

By shifting freight to rail and optimising truck use, India can reduce logistics costs from 14-10% of Gross Domestic Product and carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2050 compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

Initiatives taken by Indian Railways


  • Increased the Amount of Freight: Indian Railways to increase the amount of freight moved by it from about 35% in 2015 to 45% by 2030 to reduce overall emissions from transportation.

  • Complete Electrification: Complete electrification of Indian Railways is targeted by financial year 2024. It will be the world’s largest 100% electrified rail transportation system by then.

  • Use of Solar Power: Plans to install 20 GigaWatts (GW) of solar for both traction loads and non-traction loads. Built a 1.7-MW solar power plant in Bina, Madhya Pradesh, in July 2020. 

  • It is the first solar energy plant in the world to directly power railway overhead lines, from which locomotives draw traction power. A 2.5-MW solar project in Diwana, Haryana. Work on a third pilot with a capacity of 50 MW has begun in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh). A 16-kW solar power plant has been installed as platform shelter at the Sahibabad Railway Station. The railways ministry has installed solar panels at over 960 stations and is using solar power to meet railway station energy needs.

  • Participation of Private Sector: The ministry has included provisions for a Letter of Credit (LC) in the event of railway payment default, as well as a penalty for late payment in the model bidding document for solar power developers. This is to encourage the private sector to participate in the project.



  • No-objection certificate for open access: The No objection Certificate (NoC) for open access to electricity flow for railways in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana has not been operationalised due to regulatory challenges that the railways are vigorously pursuing. 

  • If approval for procuring power through open access is granted in these states, solar deployment may increase.

  • Wheeling and banking provision: Full deployment of solar potential will become more feasible if states provide wheeling and banking arrangements.

  • Merger of solar purchase obligation and non-solar purchase obligation: The consolidation of solar and non-solar obligations will allow the railways to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations.

  • Unrestricted net metering regulations: Unrestricted net metering for rooftop solar projects would hasten the deployment of railway solar plants.



plutus ias daily current affairs 25 Oct 2021

No Comments

Post A Comment