In 2018 railway travels in the Netherlands will be carbon-neutral

A Dutch double decker train in Amsterdam. (Photo: Maurits90 via Wikimedia Commons, CC-license)
A Dutch double decker train in Amsterdam. (Photo: Maurits90 via Wikimedia Commons, CC-license)

Starting 2018, the principal passenger railway operator of the Netherlands, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), wants to run 100 % of its trains without CO2 emissions. To achieve carbon neutrality, NS has awarded the Dutch electricity supplier Eneco with a contract to supply 1.4 TWh per year of wind power. For 2016, the railway cooperative VIVENS headed by NS has already proposed that 50 % of their passenger trains will run on green electricity.

The total electricity contract which was sold by tender to Eneco includes power for all electrical train traffic from 2015 to the year 2025. To avoid that the electricity is sourced from existing renewable energy projects, one condition of the tender procedure was to submit feasible examples for new renewable power projects. On the one hand, this was done to stimulate the renewables market, on the other hand sourcing from existing renewables would drive up market prices for renewable energy in the Netherlands. 1.2 TWh of the contract’s volume will be used by NS, while the other rail carriers of VIVENS are entitled to the remaining 200 GWh.

Half of the electricity will be supplied by new wind farms from the Netherlands and the other half will come from wind parks in Belgium and Scandinavia. The rail carriers expect to increase the efficiency of their trains and their services to save more and more electricity from year to year. Compared to 2005, the electricity consumption of NS’s trains for one passenger per kilometre has sunk by 30 % already, the railway operator announced. NS takes this as a positive sign for their endeavour to source all power from renewable energies.

“This contract is a perfect example of how organisations in the rail sector work closely together to improve passenger experience and sustainable mobility. According to a customer survey, eight out of ten passengers consider it important for rail companies to switch over to green power. From 2018, trains will be running on green power, enabling our 1.2 million passengers to travel truly green with zero emission transport. We are very pleased to have Eneco as our partner because of their vast experience and reputation regarding green power,” said Timo Huges, Chairman and CEO of Nederlandse Spoorwegen.

The Dutch gas and electricity supplier Eneco has a renewable energy business unit, which has already been awarded land rights for the planned Navitus Bay Wind Park off the UK coast. Jeroen de Haas, Chairman of the Board of Management of Eneco Group, emphasises Eneco’s interest in renewable power generation: “Eneco invests substantially in sustainable power generation, for instance in constructing new wind farms. This partnership signifies that going green is a serious option for complete business sectors.” The partnership between Eneco and the railway sector is one of the largest green energy contracts of the Netherlands, so far. “As from 2018, all electricity for the rail companies will be green. Half of this electricity will be Eneco HollandseWind, which is Eneco's green electricity generated by Dutch wind farms,” de Haas added.

Tanja Peschel