Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah has made his strongest pitch for shifting from conventional energy to renewable sources by targeting the countrys biggest conglomerate the Indian Railways.
On Monday,Farooq wrote to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee,urging her to make a policy shift to solar and other forms of non-fossil-based energy. Pointing out that the Railways was among the major consumers of conventional power,he said the changeover would not only save fossil energy but significantly cut carbon emission in the country. This major transformational initiative will contribute to India’s long-term energy security as well as its ecological security, he said in the letter.
The senior Abdullah also sent her a copy of the study that was conducted recently by his ministry,which details the ways in which Railways can save crores by adhering to green technologies. The report,prepared under the aegis of the UNDP,contends that the Railways can install solar water heaters and steam-cooking systems in the maze of base kitchens,hospitals and 7,025 railway stations to save LPG,furnace oil and electricity. Such systems have already been installed in parts of the country,the report says,including one in Tirupati,Tirumala which cooks 15,000 meals a day,and at Sai Baba temple in Shirdi,which cooks 25,000 meals a day. Railways can use solar cooking systems at all its base kitchens and hostels in training and central institutions,which in turn will save LPG, the report says.
Farooq has also proposed that installation of solar water heaters be made mandatory in all railway establishments where hot water is required. For instance,the Railways has 121 hospitals of its own with a 13,770-bed capacity in which 4.5 lakh patients stayed during 2007-08. Had hot water been provided through solar systems,the total units of electricity saved would be 12.30 million,resulting in a saving of Rs 6.15 crore, the letter says. The Railways spends Rs 5,500 crore annually on electricity.
The ministry has also proposed solar power standalone audio-visual warning devices at manned/unmanned level crossings in isolated locations where extending grid electricity may not be cost-effective. Solar electricity signal lights,powering microwave repeaters,electrification of un-electrified remote stations can be done through technology that converts solar energy into electricity, the report says,adding that biogas plants can be set up near base canteens of the Railways to convert vegetable/organic waste into biogas. Lauding the Railways’ move to set up a 10-mw wind power capacity in southern India that has been feeding power into the grid,the Ministry of Renewable Energy has proposed more such wind farms.
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