All of the electric passenger trains running in the Netherlands are now powered entirely by wind. One year ahead of schedule, Dutch railway company NS announced its entire electric train fleet is running on 100-percent wind power as of January 1, 2017, ushering in a new era of green transportation.
In late 2015, the Netherlands announced its plan to have all of its trains operating entirely with wind power by 2018 – but it has achieved that goal one year ahead of schedule. As of the first of January, all public transport trains are powered by wind turbines!
The electricity used to power the Dutch trains comes from wind farms in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Finland, many of which were just recently built. And because some of those farms opened ahead of schedule, it was possible to move up the time-line. When the country achieved 75 % wind power for the trains by 2016, the initiative made a final push and reached 100 percent by January 1, 2017.
One of the Netherlands’ largest railway companies, known as NS, partnered with the Eneco energy company in 2015 to funnel renewable energy into its fleet of electric trains, which carry 600,000 people a day.
According to DutchNews.nl, there’s currently a total of 2,200 wind turbines across the country. These windmills generate enough power to sustain the equivalent of 2.4 million homes. The trains alone consume about 1.2 billion kWh of electricity a year, which is roughly the total power consumption of every home in the country’s largest city, Amsterdam. Changing to a renewable source for the transportation will make a huge dent in the nation’s carbon footprint, which has already been shrinking over the years as a result of investments in renewable energy projects.
Eneco is using specially built wind farms for the project to avoid putting existing plants under unnecessary pressure and to keep prices down. The railway operators, meanwhile, are making energy efficiency savings in other areas (through train design and driving techniques) in order to keep demand as low as possible – this in turn ensures that the extra price of wind power isn’t passed on to customers.
According to Eneco account manager Michel Kerkhof, “This partnership ensures that new investments can be made in even newer wind farms, which will increase the share of renewable energy. In this way, the Dutch railways aim to reduce the greatest negative environmental impact caused by CO2 in such a way that its demand actually contributes to the sustainable power generation in the Netherlands and Europe.”
Wind energy is rapidly taking over in the Netherlands, while other nations also work toward increasing their renewable energy production. Scotland’s plans are to be 100 percent zero-carbon by 2020. They are also investing in tidal power generation to help achieve that goal.
The use of wind power is growing around the world. The Netherlands has been the latest country to set the pace for adopting alternative energy sources. China is now producing more energy from wind than the US is from nuclear, while Denmark now has enough wind farms to exceed the country’s total energy needs at certain points. As more plants come online, the risk of outages due to calm, still days becomes much lower.