Railways to go green with four bio-diesel plants

Indian Railways has planned to set up four bio-diesel plants to reduce its carbon footprint and take forward its experiment with non-conventional form of energy. It is already planting saplings of jatropha, one of the sources of bio-diesel, on pilot basis in partnership with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

The plants will mark the entry of railways in production of bio-diesel, however, it will be only for captive use and not for commercial sale of the fuel. The four units will enable the entity in meeting its increasing demand of diesel. As per a new railway policy, 10% bio-diesel has to be mixed with diesel for use in locomotives and therefore railways needs to have a higher stock of bio-fuel with an increase in diesel demand.

The first two plants are to come up by the end of 2012-13 at a total cost of Rs 79 crore. These will be followed by other two plants. "We have planted jatropha on pilot basis on acres of railway land and the plants will be processed in the bio-diesel production units that we have planned," a senior railway official told FE.

The plan to set up the plants have been in the pipeline for at least last 10 years. Railways entered in an agreement with IOC in 2003. As per the tie-up, IOC was to plant, extract and blend the fuel in high-speed diesel. Railways gave 500 hectare land in Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jaipur to the public sector oil firm for planting the saplings, which were expected to give 800 tonne of bio-diesel. "The aim has been to reduce the carbon footprint by using blended diesel in the locomotives and become self-sufficient," a former financial commissioner said requesting anonymity.

Railways' dependence on IOC will reduce once the plants are commissioned. The national transporter is also likely to save on costs of procuring the non-conventional fuel. Officials of IOC were not available for comments.

Some zonal railways already produce small quantities of bio-fuel from waste vegetable oil collected from hotels. The fuel produced is being utilised in blended form in diesel electric multiple units, light duty road vehicles in workshops. In the last three years, nearly 1.4 lakh litre of bio-fuel has been produced.

Source: The Financial Express, Delhi Tuesday, 10th August 2010
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