How wind can power the world's mass transit

This year, Dutch commuters ditched fossil fuels to power their country's trains on 100% wind energy - and it's a grand idea that's catching on the world over.

The world’s soaring population is prompting a slew of transit innovations: wheel-free bullet trains, obstacle-sensing robot cars, 120mph passenger pods.

But in the Netherlands, there’s one leap forward that’s immediately practical and not the stuff of sci-fi; in fact, it’s already helping to cut down on emissions and shuttling close to a million passengers a day.

In January, the national Dutch rail service revealed that all of the country’s electric trains run on pure, renewable, wind energy – a grand idea that’s also being pursued in cities across the world. For a planet that’s already grappling with the effects of decades of using pollutant-spewing machines – which could possibly be even further exacerbated with rising car ownership and rising populations across the globe – these wind-powered trains could usher in a much-needed era of cleaner transport just in the nick of time.

Video by Howard Timberlake

Grand Ideas

The 21st Century is continually throwing us new challenges and expecting us to adapt – but for every earth-shattering megatrend, there are dozens of genius solutions. Follow them all in BBC Future's special series, Grand Ideas.

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