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Zero-emission enterprise 

In order to remain a leader in providing sustainable mobility, NS has set itself the target of 2040 as the year in which it becomes a zero-emission business. We will qualify as such once we are able to use green energy at any moment without depending on energy from fossil sources at times when there is no wind or when the sun is not shining. Our main strategies to achieve that are reducing energy consumption where possible and using our land and buildings to generate sustainable energy. We already purchase most of our energy requirements from zero-emission sources.

CO2 emissions down to zero: climate neutrality

NS is one of the largest electricity consumers in the Netherlands. We use 90% of that energy for running our trains and 10% for our stations, offices and workshops. We have offered climate-neutral rail transport services since 2017. We achieved this by purchasing as much new green electricity from wind farms for our trains as we consume, over the year as a whole. In 2019 we launched the effort to offer climate-neutral replacement bus services using renewable fuel based on waste and residual flows. All replacement bus services performed for NS in 2020 were 100% climate neutral. In addition, we had planned to eliminate an 11% deficit resulting from start-up problems in 2019. However, in 2020 part of the deficit evaporated as demand for touring car services plummeted due to the COVID-19 measures. We will eliminate the remainder in 2021. For our buildings, too, we purchase as much green electricity as we consume on an annual basis. Since 2020, we have purchased all gas for our buildings from fully sustainable sources. This means that in that year, NS buildings no longer generated any direct emissions (scope 1). Indirect CO2 emissions (scope 2) as a result of the consumption of heat in our buildings amounted to 0.4 kilotonnes (2019: 0.6 kilotonnes). At the start of the franchise in 2014, we emitted 77 kilotonnes (scope 1) and 487 kilotonnes (scope 2) of CO2. Compared with 2015, in 2020 we avoided over 0.6 megatonnes of CO2 emissions by saving energy and by purchasing green energy. Since the start of the franchise we have been able to avoid a total of 2.7 megatonnes of CO2 emissions up to and including 2020.

Saving energy

Over the past few years, NS has taken measures to become more energy efficient. For example,  

  • we have turned energy efficiency into a management focus for the replacement and modernisation of rolling stock; 

  • we have improved capacity utilisation rates of our trains and buildings; 

  • we have taken energy-saving measures at the stations, in collaboration with tenants; 

  • we have provided train drivers and guards with technical tools to promote energy-efficient driving.

The combined result of these measures is that at the end of 2019, NS was 30.8% more energy efficient relative to 2005. However, given the fact that we ran our trains for several months with hardly any passengers, energy consumption per passenger-kilometre increased. In 2020, NS used an average of 141.3 Wh of energy per passenger-kilometre for passenger transport (2019: 67.7 Wh/pkm). This means we have not met our target of 2% efficiency improvement per year.

Total energy consumption by NS in 2020 was lower than the figure for 2019. NS consumes electricity (1,198 GWh), diesel (2.03 million litres), heat (24.8 TJ) and gas (5.6 million m3) for trains, buses, stations, workshops and offices. This works out at a total of 1,275 GWh of energy. Of this amount, 1,268 GWh is green energy. With our thermal storage system, we generate the equivalent of 17 GWh of heat and cold at six stations. 

Sustainable generation of energy

NS contributes to the energy transition by using its buildings and land for sustainable energy generation. For example, in Amsterdam we have made land available to help realise the Nieuwe Hemweg wind farm. Built in 2020, this wind farm will be taken into operation in 2021 and provide an installed capacity of 13.2 MW. We are also developing a solar carport at the P+R site of Culemborg train station, and upgraded the energy label for our Utrecht offices from D to A (in collaboration with the owner, ASR Real Estate). 

Purchasing zero-emission energy

NS wants to be able to use sustainable energy at any moment of the day without having to rely on fossil sources as a back-up. Currently, we still depend on fossil fuel back-up capacity for 40% of the time that our trains operate. NS is working hard to reduce this percentage, and uses several tools to achieve that (demand-side management, generation management and storage). Together with our energy partner Eneco, in 2020 we explored the most promising measures to boost this effort. We are now planning a pilot project to determine the potential contribution of solar energy to our zero-emission transport objective.

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