The Netherlands has in part long been famous due to its windmills. And starting next year, wind turbines will allow this country of 17 million people to stand out for another reason: starting on January 1, 2018, all of its major airports will switch to wind power for electricity. That includes Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, through which 60 million passengers pass annually.
According to the Royal Schiphol Group, which manages Amsterdam’s hub as well as other airports within the Netherlands, Dutch wind farms will supply the company’s various air terminals with a total of 200 gigawatt hours (GWh) of clean power. That power capacity is the equivalent required to electrify 60,000 Dutch households, or a city of 100,000 in the Netherlands such as Delft.
Royal Schiphol says all of the airports’ wind power will be sourced from Dutch wind farms, starting with the Vianen wind park in central Netherlands. The airport operator says more power will be sourced from new wind farms as they open in the next few years so the air terminals do not cull power from existing farms. Eneco Group, a sustainable energy company with 7,000 employees based in Rotterdam, will manage the relationships between the wind farms and the Netherlands’ airports.
The Dutch airports’ conversion to wind power is another step forward as the country’s entire transport sector aims to become more sustainable. On the ground, the Dutch are making more moves to move away from fossil fuels such as coal and diesel. In January, the Netherlands’ train network announced it was running entirely on wind – a milestone reached one year earlier than originally planned. Last year, Dutch lawmakers took steps to ban the sale of diesel-fueled automobiles by 2025.
Schiphol Airport’s largest tenant, the Dutch air carrier KLM, has also taken steps in recent years to do its part in positioning the Netherlands as a sustainable travel hub. The company has launched various programs, from biofuel pilot projects to using lighter and more efficient equipment, to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Meanwhile KLM is phasing out older aircraft in favor of the Boeing Dreamliner, which consumes 30 percent less jet fuel than similarly sized planes.
And lest we forget about the transport option for which the Netherlands is most famous – bicycling – the city of Utrecht is opening a new bicycle garage this summer, which its builders say will become the largest of its kind in the world upon completion.
Along with other sustainable development programs, the airports’ adoption of clean energy will help nudge the Netherlands closer to its environmental goals. As with other European countries, the Dutch are eyeing a 20-20-20 goal for 2020: a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency and procuring 20 percent of its energy from renewable fuel sources. But in a recent voluntary annual disclosure report to the United Nations, the country admitted at a per capita level, it still consumes large amounts of fossil fuels and emits greenhouse gasses at a rapid rate. In addition, the country’s share of renewables within its overall energy portfolio still lags compared to other European Union countries.
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