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Since 2017, all Dutch NS trains are powered 100% by wind energy – saving 1.4B kgs C02 emissions

Since 2017, all Dutch NS trains are powered 100% by wind energy – saving 1.4B kgs C02 emissions
Source: Eneco

In the Netherlands, all NS’s 1,200,000 train journeys per day have been without CO2 emissions for 2 years already. A world’s first!

Dutch Railways saved 1.43 billion kilograms in C02 emissions in two years time

Since 2017 , 100% of Dutch electric trains have been powered by wind energy.  The Dutch Railways Company NS is the world’s first railway company that gets 100% of its energy from wind energy. This has already led to a savings of 1.43 billions kilograms of C02 emissions.

Since 2017, Dutch Railways NS has been 100% powered by wind energy They planned to realise switching 100% to wind energy in 2018 but they were AHEAD of schedule in January 2017. They now already saved 1.43 Billion kilograms of CO2 emissions. Source: BrightVibes

Sustainable means of transport

Travelling by train has been the most environmentally friendly way of public transportation for a long time already. In the Netherlands they have now taken it to the next level using wind turbines to power all of its electric trains.

The Dutch have a long history of using wind energy to advance. They used windmills to drain land covered by water since the 17th century. 

Famous Dutch polders were drained using wind energy Source: None

Way ahead of schedule

They planned to realise switching 100% to wind energy in 2018 but this time they were AHEAD of schedule in January 2017. 

Energy company Eneco provides NS the energy to transport 600,000 people per day. That’s 1,200,000 train journeys per day without any CO2 emissions.

NS requires 1.2B kWh of wind-powered energy per year, which is the same amount all households in Amsterdam consume per year. The partnership with NS, allowed Eneco to invest substantially in the expansion of its wind turbine parks. 

Eneco and NS Dutch Railways only sealed the partnership in 2015. It shows what can be achieved on the road to a sustainable future when we really put our minds to it. 

In addition, NS has committed to lower its energy consumption by 2% per year. Did you know that since 2005 NS has already decreased its energy consumptions by 30%?

Eneco and NS originally planned to reach 100% of all trains to be powered by wind energy by 2018. But they were able to speed up this process and reached their objective one year earlier in January 2017.
How Eneco can provide the required capacity to power the Dutch railways Eneco and NS originally planned to reach 100% of all trains to be powered by wind energy by 2018. But they were able to speed up this process and reached their objective one year earlier in January 2017.

“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 Michel 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.

“This partnership ensures that new investments can be made in even newer wind farms, which will increase the share of renewable energy,” confirms Kerkhof. “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.

Note: the image above was not corrected for the fact that 100% wind energy was reached ahead of plans in 2017. Source: Eneco

Other Dutch rail carriers participate too

NS is purchasing sustainable energy on behalf of VIVENS, the association of rail carriers, including: ProRail, Arriva, Connexxion, Kombi Rail Europe, DB Schenker, ERS Railways, HSL Logistik, Rotterdam Rail Feeding and Rurtalbahn Benelux.

In the table below you find a breakdown from which windparks VIVENS gets its wind energy. 

Breakdown supplied wind energy per wind park Source: NS Dutch Railways
NS CEO Rogier van Boxtel shows just how much he loves windSource: YouTube NS

Wind power makes economic sense

Wind power makes economic sense. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power generation in Europe today. Wind in Europe accounts for €67bn+ annual turnover and 255,000 jobs. Offshore wind is rapidly reducing costs and will play a central role in Europe’s power mix going forward, according to Wind Europe

How does it actually work?

This video explains how wind turbines work and provide energy into the power grid. You can find more details here at explainthatstuff.com. And in this interview with Eneco more details are disclosed how the partnership between Eneco and NS leads to real growth in the supply of wind energy. 

How wind energy worksSource: YouTube Acciona

Do the trains run if there is no wind?

Fortunately, NS trains also run when there is no wind. This is how it works.

There are no cables that run from a windmill to a train. The moment a windmill makes electricity, it will end up on the grid. Here all the electricity, green and gray, comes together. This is necessary to be able to provide a stable supply of energy.  From this network, NS gets the power to drive its trains. NS commissioned Eneco to expand its wind energy capacity through new wind farms. This to ensure NS its commitment leads to a considerable increase in wind energy capacity that ends up on the grid.  The green electricity that comes on the net through the cooperation of Eneco and NS fully covers the by the NS required annual 1.2 Terawatt hours.

This energy is directly traceable to individual wind farms, because NS and Eneco use the GVO European Certification System.

Dutch Climate Case Urgenda

So, is the Netherlands leading the way when it comes to sustainable energy? The answer is no. As far as we are aware, NS is the first sizable railway company in the world that claims 100% of its energy is directly sourced from wind energy. In that respect the Netherlands is setting the example. 

When we look at the bigger picture on how well the Netherlands perform compared to other European countries in fighting climate change, the Netherlands is not doing well. According to Eurostat, in 2017 only 6.6% of its energy consumption came from renewable energy sources. Compared to the European average of 17,5% in 2017, the Netherlands is way behind its peers and its European target. 

That is the main reason why – together with 900 citizens – the Urgenda Foundation filed the Climate Case against the Dutch Government. And they won. The Urgenda Climate Case is the first case in which regular citizens have managed to hold their government accountable for taking insufficient action to keep them safe from dangerous climate change.

Dutch Climate Case UrgendaSource: YouTube Urgenda

It is clear the Netherlands needs to do much more to transition to sustainable energy sources and help fight climate change. But let the accomplishment of the NS together with Eneco be an example for the Dutch government to switch gear and go full speed ahead with the transformation of its energy policies. And may it inspire many other railway carriers to follow the NS Dutch Railway’s example. 

Own initiative of BrightVibes

Both this article as the video came about on BrightVibes’ own initiative, without collaborating with Eneco or NS.

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