Dutch Railways run entirely on energy produced by wind farms by 2018…

The Netherlands has an ambitious new energy goal: The country wants its entire electric rail system to run on 100% wind power within three years.

The Dutch rail network will run entirely on renewable wind energy by 2018 under a new contract signed by power company Eneco and energy procurement cooperative VIVENS. Julian Turner gets the inside track on the unique collaboration from Michel Kerkhof, account manager at Eneco.

Harried Dutch commuters may not be entirely cognisant of the fact, but they may soon be travelling on one of the most environmentally friendly rail networks in the whole of Europe, if not the world.

Electricity generated by wind turbines already provides nearly half of traction power on the 2,900km ProRail 1.5kV DC network, out of total consumption of around 1.4 terawatt hours (TWh) per year.

That figure is set to rise to 100% by 2018 under a new green energy contract – thought to be among the largest yet signed in Europe – between power supplier Eneco and VIVENS, an energy procurement joint venture comprising Netherlands Railways (NS), Veolia, Arriva, Connexxion and rail freight firms.

The wind power will come from within the Netherlands, as well as Belgium and some Scandinavian nations; part of the objective is to promote increased renewable energy adoption in other European countries.

In the last few years, wind power has seen rapid growth in adoption worldwide. According to the International Energy Council, the land-based wind power installation rate has gone up around 24% annually every year since 2000. The council predicts that if world governments stick to plan, wind power could account for 18% of all energy production globally.

Under the terms of the deal, half of the NS fleet of electric trains will run on green energy in 2015, rising to 70% the following year, 95% in 2017, with the goal of a 100% renewable network by 2018.

Eneco will supply 1.4TWh of electricity for the rail system – equivalent to the amount consumed by all households in Amsterdam – from wind farms that are in the process of coming on-stream. Half of them are situated in the Netherlands, and the remainder in Belgium and Scandinavia. After 2018, about half of the electricity demand will likely need to be provided by foreign sources.

Back in the Netherlands, Eneco says it also entered a 10-year deal with Google to make its data center in the northern part of the country totally powered by wind farm energy as well.

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