By RP Siegel — Man’s first use of wind technology goes back some 5,000 years when wind-powered boats were first seen on the Nile. For centuries wind-driven ships plowed the waves, as some still do. In time, wind was put to work pumping water and grinding grain. The Dutch refined this technology in the 15th Century, using it to drain lakes and reclaim land that had eroded into the ocean, creating polders, where millions now live. The first wind turbine for electric generation was invented by Charles Brush, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1888.
Wind power. Transportation. Holland. In a nutshell, that’s our story for today.
The Royal Schiphol Group, the aviation company that owns and operates several major airports in the Netherlands, including the Amsterdam airport bearing its name, the 14th busiest in the world, has just made an announcement. As of January 1, 2018, all their business units will run on sustainable power.
The announcement states that the group will purchase 200GWh of electricity from Eneco Group of Rotterdam for the next 15 years. The intent is that, in time, all of the wind power will be produced in the Netherlands. Eneco, while not well known in the US, has interests in Germany as well. The company was ranked #8 in the 2017 Sustainable Brands Top 100.
Included in this agreement are Schiphol (Amsterdam), Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Eindhoven Airport and Lelystad Airport. All will receive sustainable power. Together, the airports consume around 200 GWh, which is roughly equivalent to the consumption of 60,000 households.
Eneco was also included in another announcement earlier this year in which NS, the Dutch national railway said that all of their electric trains are now wind-powered.
The ten-year deal was slated to begin January 1, 2018, but the goal was reached nearly a year early. This was due to the new installation of wind farms both onshore and off the Dutch coast.
The railway makes roughly 5,500 trips per day, carrying some 600,000 passengers. Eneco is also installing EV charging stations outside of their terminals.
This is clearly cutting edge. For Americans, just using public transportation is considered a big step in cutting emissions due to mobility. But to have the option of carbon neutral transport that doesn’t involve walking, paddling, or pedaling, that is truly a big deal.
That’s not to say that the US has no green options that don’t involve self-propulsion. Electric buses are beginning to catch on in a number of American cities. According to the Department of Transportation, there are currently approximately 300 zero emissions buses operating in the US. Los Angeles recently announced plans to buy roughly 2,000 more. While many of these are in California, including three fuel cell buses, Seattle plans to buy 120. Chicago, Louisville, Dallas, Worcester, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, even Rochester are buying electric buses.
These will certainly produce less emissions than the diesels they will be replacing, But the next step, if we want to catch up to the Dutch, will be to ensure that they are charged up using renewable power.