All of the electric passenger trains running in the Netherlands are now powered entirely by wind. One year ahead of schedule, Dutch railway company NS announced its entire electric train fleet is running on 100-percent wind power as of January 1, 2017, ushering in a new era of green transportation. Renewable energy advocates hope the early success will inspire planners to incorporate wind-powered trains in other high-speed rail projects around the world, including some proposed in the United States.
In late 2015, the Dutch government announced its goal to power the country’s electric trains entirely with wind power by 2018. However, early successes in rolling out the clean energy program resulted in 75 percent wind power for the trains in 2016, so the initiative made a final push and achieved 100 percent effect January 1, 2017. One of the Netherlands’ largest railway companies, known as NS, partnered with the Eneco energy company in 2015 to funnel renewable energy into its fleet of electric trains, which carry 600,000 people per day.
Electric trains on the NS use around 1.2 billion kWh of electricity a year, which is roughly the equivalent of all the households in the city of Amsterdam. Switching to a renewable source for the energy-hogging transportation will make a huge dent in the nation’s carbon footprint, which has already been shrinking over the years due to investments in renewable energy projects. The electricity used to power the Dutch trains comes from wind farms in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Finland, many of which were just recently built. Because some of those farms opened ahead of schedule, it became possible to move up the timeline for powering electric trains with clean energy.