Environmentalists, prepare to be blown away by this bit of news: the railways are finally going green. For the first time in its history, the Central Railway (CR) has started using wind, a powerful natural resource for power, to generate electricity and supply it to stations. The pilot project is making use of wind energy to power the railway station of the popular tourist destination Khandala.
Khandala, visited by scores of Mumbaikars every weekend, has the first railway station on the Mumbai division receiving electricity supply from wind. Sources revealed that the station started drawing energy from the wind just over a month back, and there have been no glitches so far.
A huge windmill with turbines stationed close to the railway station has been churning up the energy required to power the station. The station supplements the power drawn from the windmill with solar power, another source of renewable energy. Solar panels placed at the station absorb sunlight and convert the energy to electricity.
CR officials claimed that the wind and the sun are generating around 5.1 Kilowatt (Kw) and 1 Kw of power respectively, for the railway station. The station requires 8 Kw of power for the lights and fans in its premises, which include the platforms, the stationmaster’s office, canteens, restrooms and ticket booking offices.
“These two forms of renewable energy are taking care of over 80 per cent of electricity supply to Khandala railway station,” said a CR official. The distribution wing of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Ltd (MSEDCL) meets the remaining energy requirement. The wind and solar power plants have a life of around 25 years, and require minimum maintenance and cleaning.
The CR authorities have invested around Rs 11.5 lakh to harness the two sources of renewable energy at Khandala railway station. CR general manager Subodh Jain visited Khandala railway station in the last week of December to inspect the project. Sources revealed that the initial success of this pilot project has encouraged them to implement it at other stations of other holiday destination like Khopoli and Matheran. The railways have pitched Matheran as a potential World Heritage site to UNESCO.