A country goes electric
The windmill. This beautifully efficient invention dating back to antiquity is commonly associated to one country in particular: the Netherlands. While old and outdated, the windmill’s core concept couldn’t be trendier. Wind turbines have become the epitome of environmental engineering. A wind turbine rarely comes unaccompanied; they tend to stick together in so called wind farms or wind parks. Recent advancements in rotor capacity, reliability, and offshore production have taken wind turbines to a new level: society can trust them as real energy suppliers. So far, the Netherlands is their biggest fan.
The Netherlands is determined to become a global leader in green electricity use. Its plans are gigantic: by 2018, all Dutch trains will run on green electricity only. Even better, the national railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) is legally bound to use electricity produced by wind turbines. But not for partial supply, no, the whole train network will run on wind turbine energy – 100%. Thereby, Dutch wind farms will produce half of the 1,4 terawatt hours required per year . The other half will be imported from turbines in Belgium and Scandinavia. To give you a taste of how big this endeavour is: the annual electricity required for the Dutch train network is as large as the electricity used by all Amsterdam residents in a year.
Dutch efforts do not stop here, however. Actually, the government has shown quite some creativity in giving its citizens an incentive to switch from dirty fuel to clean electricity. How? One of the biggest problems of owning a car in Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities is the hunt for a parking spot. There simply aren’t any in citiesthat largely consist of water channels. As much as this is a challenge, it’s also a big opportunity in disguise. Now, the city of Amsterdam has decided to give electric car drivers a permanent free parking spot – a personal garage, basically. Not only does “going electric” mean never having to worry about parking anymore, in Amsterdam the question “where can I charge my vehicle” has been answered as well: the parking spot comes with a charging station that can be used for free! Brilliant!
Some challenges will remain to be solved. Wind turbines are reliable, but do have blackouts: what happens if not enough wind is blowing? It seems a bit negligent to have the entire rail depend on wind power. It will be very interesting to see how this idea is actually implemented. Further, while it is truly inspiring to see how much the government supports eMobility, it will cost a lot of money to provide free parking, a gratis charging station and free charging (free electricity) to all owners of electric vehicles. Anyways, let’s hope other countries start similar initiatives, after all eMobility is the future.