The Netherlands have taken the lead
to become the first country to run trains solely powered by wind
energy. This news came ahead of the 2018 schedule that the Dutch rail
operator had previously set. So on New Year's Day, Nederlandse Spoorwegen
(NS) announced that their railways will power electric trains from 100%
renewable energy provided by wind turbines both on and offshore. NS will
require 1.2B kWh of wind-powered energy per year, which is the same amount that all
households in Amsterdam consume every year. The Danish rail operator
partnered with the renewable energy company Eneco in 2015 and since then they
have created a successful partnership achieving the world's first 100%
renewable train. Now 4,800 wind-powered trains will run along these tracks everyday
catering for 1.1 million passengers. For the first time, rail travelers will
have an option to travel as green as possible. This decision was directed by
developers behind Holland's largest offshore wind installation - the 600MW
Gemini project where €2.8 billion worth of contracts were signed to push the
project towards its new targeted completion date of 2017.
Why wind power?
Not only is it beneficial for the
environment, but it makes economic sense. Onshore wind is now the cheapest form
of new power generation in Europe. The Netherlands currently has 2.7GW of wind
power capacity in operation, most of which is onshore, and aims to reach 4.45GW
by 2023, according to reports from BusinessGreen. With these reducing costs, it
means that it will play a large part in renewable energy going forward. The
green power is used by carriers from new wind farms that have been set up in
the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Belgium, whilst the rest of the trains'
energy will be provided from other countries. Eneco guarantee that sufficient
energy will be provided for the trains at all times. A key objective from the
partnership was to reach out to other wind power plants within Europe and
encourage more countries to begin using sustainable energy.
The Netherlands have been
using wind power since the 17th century
when they used turbines to drain land covered in water. In 2015, it was
recorded that the country now have 2,200 windmills, according to figures from
the wind energy association. In total, the Netherlands now produces enough wind
energy to power 2.4 million households, Netherland's Wind Energy Association
(NWEA) said. The Dutch are trying to meet the EU-set target of producing 14% of
total electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
According to Michel Kerkhof,
account manager at Eneco, this deal has the capability to set the example for
rail travel around the world. It can revolutionize how renewable energy is
procured and utilized, both in the rail sector and other primary industries.
"If the Dutch railways sourced
100% of the 1.4 tWh of energy they needed each year from within the
Netherlands, this would decrease availability and increase prices of green
power for other parties," explains Eneco's Kerkhof. "That is why half
of the demand will be sourced from a number of new wind farms in Belgium and
Scandinavia, which have been specifically assigned for this contract. A key
objective is to avoid procuring energy from the limited existing number of
sustainable energy projects in the Netherlands, thus promoting renewable growth
both domestically and Europe-wide."