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German rail operator on track to 100% renewable power with call for green PPAs

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG has issued a Europe-wide tender to supply 5% of its annual power demand from renewable sources.

Over the course of eight years, Deutsche Bahn will buy 500 GWh of green electricity through power purchase agreements, or PPAs, of different lengths and volumes from a variety of partners, the company said on Oct. 13.

By expanding its renewable power portfolio, Deutsche Bahn said it "faces up to its responsibility for protecting the environment and climate." From 2038, the company will run its trains exclusively on renewables, said Torsten Schein, chairman of DB Energie GmbH, Deutsche Bahn's power provider.

The company already procures 57% of its power from renewable sources, making it the biggest consumer of renewable power in Germany.

This share will rise to 61% by 2020. The rail operator signed its first corporate offshore wind PPA with innogy SE and RWE Supply & Trading GmbH in early September, agreeing to buy 25 MW of electricity from the Nordsee Ost offshore wind farm.

Through its DB Cargo AG logistics business, Deutsche Bahn also makes oil and gas deliveries.

Green rail

Appetite for renewable PPAs is growing among European rail operators. Dutch group NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen says its trains have been powered by renewable energy supplied by partner Eneco BV since 2017. Half of the company's power is produced domestically; the rest is imported from Sweden, Finland and Belgium.

Meanwhile, France's state-owned railway operator SNCF signed its first large-scale renewables deal in the country in June, buying the full output from three new solar farms for the next 25 years. The projects will be built by renewable developer Voltalia SA.

SNCF had already been installing solar panels on some of the land it owns in France and also buys large amounts of power on the wholesale market.