A country that’s used wind mills since the Middle Ages has begun harnessing the power of wind to bring its transportation system into the future.
In a world first, Dutch railway company NS now runs all of its passenger trains on 100 percent wind energy. Roughly 600,000 people ride NS trains every day, and as of January 1, wind energy powers all of those trips.
The 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of wind energy being used to power the trains – provided by energy company Eneco and drawn from projects in the Netherlands, Belgium and other Scandinavian countries – is enough to power every household in Amsterdam. But Eneco made a point of building new wind farms for the trains, sourcing from both domestic and international projects to help keep prices down for Dutch customers.
Impressively, Eneco reached the 100 percent goal an entire year ahead of schedule – proving how quickly the wind industry can rise to the occasion when given the opportunity.
Eneco hopes the achievement will encourage other industries to follow their lead.
“What makes this contract and partnership unique is that a whole sector decreases its CO2 footprint enormously and sets an example for other sectors to follow,” Eneco account manager Michel Kerkhof told Railway Technology when the deal was announced in 2015. “Mobility is responsible for 20 percent of CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, and if we want to keep travelling, it is important that we do this without burdening the environment with CO2 and particulate matter. This contract offers all Dutch citizens the option to make a climate neutral trip, regardless of distance.”
In the United States, the stakes are even higher. As states from California to Texas to Maryland implement high-speed rail, it will be more important than ever that our rail systems rely on clean, low-cost energy to serve all of the commuters who will be leaving their cars at home and riding the train.
And who knows? Maybe wind-powered train rides will be in all our futures too.