The Netherlands, a nation that’s been keen on harnessing the power of the wind since pretty much forever, has announced that in an effort to slash transport-related carbon emissions, its entire electric train network — all 1,800 miles of it — will run on energy produced at European wind farms. To be clear, Dutch trains already partially run on wind turbine-generated juice, a hugely impressive feat. But never a kingdom to rest on its laurels when it comes to sustainable transport, the Netherlands is now eying an ambitious total switch-over to wind power within three short years.

As reported by Railway Technology, a 50 percent wind power benchmark — a benchmark first established in 2014 through an agreement between Rotterdam-headquartered energy supplier Eneco and VIVENS, a consortium of Dutch rail carriers including state-owned Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) — will be reached by the end of this year.

By 2016, that figure will jump to 70 percent and, in 2017, 95 percent. By 2018, all electric trains in the Netherlands, which carry an estimated 1.2 million passengers per day, will be wind-powered.

Roughly half of the wind farms powering the Netherlands’ 1.5kV DC electric rail system will be domestic operations, while the other half will be carefully selected farms located in neighboring Belgium and in Scandinavian nations.

So why the split? If the Netherlands, home to several large terrestrial and offshore wind farms boasting a total capacity of 2.7 GW and growing, can easily power a zero-emission electric rail system by way of domestic wind farms without assistance from its neighbors, why doesn’t it?

Michel Kerkof, an account manager at Eneco, explains to Railway Technology:

"If the Dutch railways sourced 100% of the 1.4 tWh of energy they needed each year from within the Netherlands, this would decrease availability and increase prices of green power for other parties. That is why half of the demand will be sourced from a number of new wind farms in Belgium and Scandinavia, which have been specifically assigned for this contract."

It's worth noting that despite the charming ubiquity of water-moving windmills in the Netherlands, when it comes to the per capita capacity of energy-producing wind turbines, the vertically challenged country doesn’t even crack the EU top five. Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany and, of course, Denmark, all top the list.

Kerkof adds: “This partnership ensures that new investments can be made in even newer wind farms, which will increase the share of renewable energy. In this way, the Dutch railways aim to reduce the greatest negative environmental impact caused by CO2 in such a way that its demand actually contributes to the sustainable power generation in the Netherlands and Europe.”

Mobility — that is, the various methods that people employ to transport themselves from point A to point B — is responsible for 20 percent of carbon emissions in the small but super-dense nation that, time after time, proves itself to be one giant clog-clad footstep ahead of the pack.

On that note, this past June, a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch government to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 percent within the next five years. The landmark ruling was prompted by a class-action lawsuit brought against the government by nearly 900 Dutch citizens — the world’s first-ever climate liability suit.

Via [Railway Technology] via [Gizmodo]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

By 2018, Dutch rail will be fully powered by wind
In a nation where transportation claims 20 percent of CO2 emissions, train travel will soon be a zero-emission affair.