Travelling by train has been the most environmentally friendly way of 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.
Energy company Eneco provides NS the energy to transport 600.000 people per day. That’s 1.200.000 train trips 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%?
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.
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.
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 2014 only 5.5% of its energy consumption came from renewable energy sources. Compared to the European average of 16% in 2014, 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.
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.
We have updated the article with more information on how wind energy actually works. Also we have specified more clearly that all Dutch electric trains now run on wind energy. This does not include the descreasing – and relatively small – number of trains that still run on diesel. Additionally, we have included the Eurostat numbers that show the Netherlands is way behind its European peers when it comes to EU Renewable Energy targets.
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