Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy

Jan 12, 2017

By Agence France-Presse in The Hague

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said .

“Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

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13 comments on “Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy

  • @OP – All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said.

    I think there is some sloppy reporting or poor translation here!

    Trains may run on wind energy some of the time, and the total input to the grid may be equivalent to the electricity used by the trains, but I think this claim is unlikely.
    I also understand that some Dutch trains are diesels.

    Wind-turbines work for less than a hundred percent of the time, so there is a need for a mix of generating systems.
    Perhaps the Netherlands as part of a European grid, will be linked in future to the German – Norwegian wind, solar and hydro, systems.


    ABB wins $900 million order to connect Norwegian and German power grids
    “We are very pleased to be working with TenneT and Statnett on another landmark project that will support the integration of the European energy market.
    The smart combination of renewable power generation, e.g. solar and wind in Germany and hydro-electric in Norway, demonstrates that we can technologically enable a sustainable green energy policy across Europe,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. “This order underlines ABB’s technology leadership in HVDC and is another milestone in restoring our Power Systems division to a path of long-term growth and profitability.”

    NordLink will be key in connecting Norway with Germany and has been designated as one of the European Commission’s projects of common interest to help create an integrated European Union energy market.
    It will increase energy security in both countries and support the integration of renewable energy into the countries’ grids by allowing surplus wind and solar power produced in Germany to be transmitted to Norway, and hydroelectric power to be transmitted in the opposite direction. The link will transmit power at a record capacity of 1,400 MW, which is enough to supply 3.6 million German households.

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  • Thanks for that Alan, I was thinking much the same thing.

    I suspect what they mean is they are paying for the amount of kilowatts of energy to the wind company that is off-setting it’s production with other forms of energy, so when the wind is not on they use grid power but put there excess into the grid otherwise. I wish they didn’t use this language it leads to climate deniers (rightly) to point out that wind doesn’t go 100% of the time. Would have been different if in the article they had explained that they commissioned sufficient megawatts/year to cover 100% of the electricity used in train travel. And then explain that while at any one point this energy mix may not be entirely wind but that wind replaces the need to generate x megawatts of energy from fossil fuels.

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  • Reckless Monkey #2
    Jan 13, 2017 at 12:37 am

    The wind market – particularly the off-shore wind market is growing in Europe. Here is a breakdown by countries: –


    With installed capacity now capable of producing approximately 40.6 TWh in a normal wind year, there is enough
    electricity from offshore wind to cover 1.5% of the EU’s total electricity consumption.

    The UK has the largest amount of installed offshore wind capacity in Europe (5,060.5 MW) representing 45.9% of all
    installations. Germany follows with 3,294.6 MW (29.9%). With 1,271.3 MW (11.5% of total European installations),
    Denmark is third, followed by Belgium (712.2 MW, 6.5%), the Netherlands (426.5 MW, 3.9%), Sweden (201.7 MW,
    1.8%), Finland (26 MW), Ireland (25.2 MW), Spain (5 MW), Norway (2 MW) and Portugal (2 MW).

    The Dutch are not particularly well represented in the OFFSHORE sector and some of their political parties are obstructing developments, but have a long history of wind use onshore.

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  • It looks like an over-supply of electricity has temporarily depressed electricity prices – just as an oversupply of oil has depressed oil prices.

    Oil and coal market prices continue to fail to include the costs of environmental damage.


    The scale of these projects continues to grow. The Gemini project, off the coast of the Netherlands, will have 150 turbines totaling 600 megawatts of capacity when it’s completed next year. Grander schemes are in the works: late last year, Britain’s secretary of energy and climate change greenlighted the vast Dogger Bank project, which will cover 360 square miles off the northeast coast of Scotland. Dogger Bank will comprise 400 wind turbines with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, enough to power two million homes.

    Offshore wind is booming despite the fact that electricity demand in Europe is flat and even declining in some countries. In Germany and the U.K., renewable energy is expanding more rapidly than aging fossil-fuel plants are being shut down .
    The resulting overcapacity has slashed the wholesale price of electricity, from about 60 euros ($68) per megawatt-hour three years ago to around 30 euros ($34) today. The cost of energy from offshore wind turbines is more than 100 euros ($114) a megawatt-hour. Power from onshore wind farms costs much less—60 ($68) to 70 euros per megawatt-hour—but new onshore installations have been blocked, largely because of objections from local communities.

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  • Other good news. Google announced today they will reach 100% renewable power some time in 2017.

    What I am hoping for is the economics for clean energy will reach some tipping point and the fossil fuel industry will tank overnight. How I want to see those anti-environmentalists lose their shirts.

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  • alf1200 #7
    Jan 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Alan and Reckless. I think they would have battery banks in the train to charge?

    I don’t think that would work for the high voltage a/c systems and power required for modern trains.

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  • Strikes me as the infrastructure in most countries (certainly small countries like Holland) should have no difficulty putting in overhead lines and could therefore save the weight (of batteries) on the trains. I suspect they are using a bunch of power sources (I don’t know the energy mix in Holland) but have calculated the annual megawatts of power used and have purchased sufficient wind farms to offset that amount of power. Other power sources be it nuclear, coal, solar, hydro or whatever the mix is will be used when wind is low. The other option ultimately is to connect power grids over wider areas (the wind/Sun will always be blowing/shinning somewhere).

    The article is very unclear about how they do this which is a problem I think. I applaud them doing this because every kilowatt of power generated by wind is one less kilowatt generated by coal, so let’s say on one day they are using 60% power generated by wind at that moment and 40% say coal. At other times they are generating the 40% either over their need on a windy day which will mean they will not have to burn as much coal or gas to keep the grid working. So yes they can kinda sorta make the claim that 100% of their power is either directly from wind or offset from other sources. But ultimately those other sources are going to be made entirely of carbon neutral forms of energy.

    It’s fine for a few companies to say offset their carbon by paying for alternative energy elsewhere in the grid but only so many can do this before the alternatives are not being utilized or coal or gas are going to be continued to be used. Climate deniers will point. We need to be extremely direct and honest about where we are at this is great new I just wish the news would be more precise, we need to do more of this while replacing coal as base-load power.

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  • Reckless Monkey #9
    Jan 13, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Strikes me as the infrastructure in most countries (certainly small countries like Holland) should have no difficulty putting in overhead lines and could therefore save the weight (of batteries) on the trains.

    They have in fact done so for years, but are replacing the old D/C powerline system with a new high-voltage A/C system compatible with European standards.


    Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Netherlands Railways – NS) runs trains over 2000km of electrified railway, and conversion of the overhead from 1500kV dc to 25kV ac is planned to massively improve the quality of service. The changes are needed due to acute, and worsening, capacity problems. Since the 1980s, the drive to increase the number of passenger trains has overloaded the power supply.

    Throughout Europe, ac systems have been preferred over dc in recent years because of perceived improvements which are possible in terms of reliability and maintenance costs, as well as the benefits arising from standardisation with the systems of neighbouring countries.

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  • Just out of interest Alan, is there an advantage running a train of alternating current over direct? The article you linked to seems to suggest the system is more reliable (I’m unsure why one is more reliable than the other also) and that it obviously makes sense to have the same system throughout Europe (Australia stupidly implemented different gauge tracks in almost every state so we have to stop and change trains between states). Just wondering why the rest of Europe chose AC over DC and don’t know enough electronics to make a judgment. Any ideas?

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  • Reckless Monkey #11
    Jan 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Just out of interest Alan, is there an advantage running a train of alternating current over direct?

    This is not really my field, but it is a balance between efficiency of power transmission, control, clearances for power lines under bridges and in tunnels, state of development of technologies, and weather resistance of the networks.

    This article gives some of the features.


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