The Netherlands has completely transferred its electrified railways to wind energy, The Guardian reports with reference to the representative of the Dutch carrier NS. According to the source of the publication, all electric trains in the country began to move exclusively due to electricity generated by wind stations, from January 1, 2017, although initially such a transition was planned to be completed from January 1, 2018. Earlier, some media mistakenly reported that absolutely all the Netherlands trains switched to wind energy.
Currently, the Netherlands operates a network of railways with a total length of 2.9 thousand kilometers. Of these, slightly more than 2.1 thousand kilometers are fully electrified. On non-electrified sections, local railway carriers use trains with locomotives on diesel traction. These same locomotives are also used on electrified sections for transportation of long and heavy trains.
In June 2015, the Netherlands completed the consideration of the case on the protection of civil rights and civil liberties, held by the Supreme Court for several years. This court ordered the government to reduce emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere by at least 25 percent by 2020. In order to enforce the court decision, in particular, the authorities of the Netherlands engaged in the transfer of railway electric transport to wind energy.
Initially, the plan provided that in 2015, electricity from wind stations should move 50 percent of electric trains, in 2016 – 70 percent, and in 2017 – 95 percent. Absolutely all electric trains were planned to be converted to wind power from the beginning of 2018. In fact, as early as 2016, thanks to the windmills, slightly more than 80 percent of electric trains moved. According to the operator NS, for one hour of work, one wind farm can provide the train for a distance of 190 kilometers.
How the Netherlands managed to transfer all the railway electric transport ahead of time to wind energy is not specified. The annual electricity consumption of the electrified railways in the Netherlands is just over 1.4 terawatt-hours. In 2016, wind stations provided only about 60 percent of the needs of electric railways. Earlier, the Dutch authorities claimed that by 2018, the shortage of wind power will be compensated by windmills in Belgium and Scandinavia.
In December 2016, a 600-megawatt wind power plant, built near the coast of Netherlands Friesland under the Gemini project, began operating in experimental mode from July 2014. About 2.8 billion euros are invested in this project. According to the current schedule, the Gemini wind farm, consisting of 150 turbines, should be fully operational in the first quarter of 2017. The nominal generated voltage of the station will be 220 kilovolts. At the substation it will increase to 380 kilovolts.
Despite the conversion of electrified railways to wind power, the Netherlands is only 11th in Europe in terms of electricity generation by wind farms. At the end of 2015, this indicator in the country was 3.4 gigawatts. For comparison, in Germany, which occupies the first place in Europe, wind power generation amounted to 44.9 gigawatts, in Spain – 23 gigawatts, and in Great Britain – 13.6 gigawatts. By 2023, the Netherlanders intend to increase the production of wind power to 4.5 gigawatts.