German rail company cuts back on coal power with major renewable deals
State-owned German railway company Deutsche Bahn will sharply cut back its use of coal power by increasing the share of renewable electricity, reports Gerald Traufetter in Spiegel Online. Deutsche Bahn secured 780 gigawatt hours (GWh) of green electricity in three deals with power providers, said the company. This amount of renewable electricity can power around 40,000 trains for 23 days, according to the Deutsche Bahn. Eighty GWh of electricity will be provided by a solar park in the East of the country, 440 GWh by a hydroelectric power plant on the Bavarian-Austrian border and another 260 GWh by an offshore wind farm off Heligoland that is being built by RWE, according to the article. The contracts are intended to secure long-term supply for a period of fifteen years.
The deals get Deutsche Bahn much closer to its goal of covering about 80 percent of its electricity needs using renewables by 2030. Currently, around 61 percent of the railway’s electricity comes from sustainable sources, according to the company. Deutsche Bahn, which portrays itself as the climate-friendly alternative to cars and airplanes, therefore still also relies on conventional sources. Coal covers about 20 percent of its enormous electricity demand, for example from the lignite-fired power plant in Schkopau and the new coal-fired power plant in Datteln, to which the railway committed in a 2007 contract, according to the article.