Two years ago the object was set to shift all Dutch railways to wind power. Nederlandse Spoorwegen Company (NS – the largest operator of Dutch railways) has issued a tender for the development and construction of alternative power sources at railways. The tender was won by Eneco Company, with which an association agreement was concluded for a term of 10 years. The prime object of association was determined as a work on the reduction of pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. It was scheduled to reach the use of wind farms’ energy by trains at the level of not less than 75% in 2016 and 100% as early as 2019. During two years a problem regarding the first bar (75%) was solved, and as early as at the beginning of 2017 all trains began to use wind power for the complete meeting of their requirements. Switch to the use of renewable energy by trains has become possible owing to the construction of wind farms in the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavian countries, interconnected network of which supplies railway with power even on those days when the wind is missing in one of the areas.
On the average, the use of 1 wind-powered generator for an hour provides the movement of 1 train for a distance of about 200 kilometres. Altogether NS transports about 600 thousand passengers per day using 5.5 thousand trains. The aggregate consumption of electric power by Dutch trains equals to 1.2 billion kWh per year, which is currently provided by 2300 wind-powered generators (of average installed capacity about 2 MW each). Within 24 hours the Eneco Company traces and uses wind farms of several countries at the same time based on the maximum ICUF (installed capacity utilization factor): in case the wind has low speed at one wind farm, then the capacities of other region are used, where wind speed provides the maximum power generation, thus the cover of railways’ daily load is accounted for the multiple use of entire network of wind farms of the Netherlands and neighboring countries.
As experts point out, the profitability of railways’ electrification by alternative energy sources at weakly used areas turns out to be quite small, while the electricity received from wind farms is cheaper than the electricity received from conventional energy sources. Good payback is observed only at actively used areas of railways. On the other hand, this solution is an important key to the future in the development of alternative energy sources (and wind power in particular) and their use in transport and other branches.