Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Completed Details

Decarbonizing the Indian Rail Industry

Project Leader: Dr. Rajat Kathuria and Dr.Saon Ray
Research Team: 

June 2015

Commencement: June 2015
Completion: 
Funded by: DFID

As a part of the 2015 international Paris Agreement on climate change, India has pledged a reduction in emissions intensity of 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. India has also set a target to transition to non-fossil fuel based energy for 40% of its cumulative electricity generation capacity by 2030. One key sector of the Indian economy that could set a strategic example for de-carbonization and meeting India’s 2030 targets is the rail transport system, and specifically Indian Railways (IR), India’s national railway service.


The Indian Railways have already considered the importance of increasing the share of low-carbon renewable energy sources such as solar and wind in the total energy mix. The internal target is installing 1,000 MW of solar power and 150 MW of wind power by 2020; the Railways are even considering a long-term target of 10,000 MW of renewable energy by 2030. Because of the volume of IR’s energy consumption, prioritizing de-carbonization of Indian Railways could help India achieve its 2030 emissions reduction goals as well as improve energy security by reducing fossil fuel imports. In addition, de-carbonization may be a more cost-effective option for IR in the long run.


This study identifies the different potential pathways to de-carbonization of IR by 2030 and examines their cost-effectiveness and feasibility. IR is currently the world’s second largest railway network and is the single largest consumer of electricity in India, consuming about 18 TWh per year, or roughly 2% of the country’s total power generation. IR also consumes 2.6 billion liters of diesel annually, or 3.2% of the total diesel consumption of the transport sector in India.
The first phase of the demand study examines the feasibility of complete de-carbonization and also the pathways under different scenarios for achieving this goal. As a part of this exercise this report estimates the growth in passenger and freight demand in 2030-31 under three scenarios of GDP growth: optimistic, realistic and pessimistic. Estimation of future electrical traction in rail passenger and freight transport also included expected use of electric traction in hauling non-suburban passenger and freight transport. Based on these calculations, the electricity requirement of the Indian Railways has been projected till 2030-31.

Research

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