As of January 1, 2017, all trains in the Netherlands are completely powered by wind energy. This announcement was made by a spokesman for the Dutch railway company, NS, Ton Boon. Is it any wonder that the land of windmills is the first country to achieve this great feat? Congratulations, Netherlands!
How did they do it?
In 2015, 51% of NS trains ran on renewable wind energy. 51% is an impressive number for any company but NS wanted to do better. They partnered with Eneco, a Dutch electricity company, to sign a ten year partnership and commit to creating greener transportation for citizens of the Netherlands. Together, NS and Eneco vowed to make every train in the Netherlands 100% run by renewable wind energy by 2018. But they achieved their goal in 2017, a year earlier than planned.
NS spokesman Ton Boon credits the increase in wind farms across the country for their expedited timeline. By bringing new wind farms into use, NS and Eneco are contributing to a greater amount of wind energy available overall in the Netherlands. In addition to NS trains, the renewable energy is also being used to power trains run by ProRail, Arriva, Connexxion, Kombi Rail Europe, DB Schenker, ERS Railways, HSL Logistik, Rotterdam Rail Feeding and Rurtalbahn Benelux.
Breaking down the numbers
Over 600,000 passengers will now enjoy climate-neutral travel every day in the Netherlands thanks to wind powered trains. That’s 5500 train trips each day thanks to renewable electricity gathered from wind farms. One windmill running for an hour can power a train to travel 120 miles.
Currently, 20% of carbon emissions in the Netherlands are attributed to traffic and transportation. By choosing the train over other carbon-emitting modes of transportation, Dutch people are making the choice for clean energy. The more people who choose the train, the better for the environment! NS hopes to capitalize on this and increase capacity to make the most of their renewable energy run trains.
More about this innovative railway company
NS isn’t new to the energy efficiency game. Way back in 1997, they joined the MeerJarenAfspraken (MJA), a project set out by the government to incite companies to begin conserving energy and using it more efficiently. NS also has a multi-year agreement with the government to improve their energy efficiency by a minimum of 2% every year. Suffice to say in 2017, they will be improving by way more than that.
Their stance on energy efficiency extends beyond the power source to NS trains, employees and buildings. NS utilizes modern trains, such as Sprinters (SLT) and DubbelDekkers (DDZ), whenever possible as the newer models use almost 30% less energy than their older versions. In 2017, NS will be debuting the VIRM 1, a modernized double decker train that features efficient climate control settings and an intelligent lighting system that will optimize sunlight. In 2018, they will introduce new Sprinters and new Intercity trains in 2021. All of these new additions are more energy efficient and were made of more environmentally-friendly materials. NS also works with their employees to optimize energy efficiency. Thanks to their employees’ expertise, trains are able to leave on time, accelerate smoothly, use their momentum efficiently and get turned off, instead of waiting in standby mode, to conserve energy. Lastly, NS is working to outfit their buildings with energy efficient materials such as insulated doors, heat pumps and smart meters.
Having already reached their 2018 goal to be completely reliant on wind energy for train travel a year early, NS is working hard to accomplish even more. They are championing the green energy movement in the Netherlands and inspiring the rest of the world to take note and follow suit. Their new goal is to use 35% less energy by 2020 as compared to 2005 rates.