Transporting goods across the channel has never been more energy efficient with renewable energy powering trains, leading to a 64 per cent cut in emissions
When the idea of building a Channel Tunnel was first mooted in the 1980’s, oil was abundant, alternative energy sources were rare and the concept of a carbon footprint had yet to make it into the public conscience. Eurotunnel engineers were nonetheless farsighted as they designed the Channel Tunnel to be as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.
Today the Channel Tunnel is by far the most environmentally sound way for people and goods to cross the between the UK and continental Europe.
Looking back, the construction of the tunnel took the environment into account from the design phase. Building the tunnel through rock 40 meters below the sea-bed means that it does not interfere with the marine environment. Where the terminals were built, vegetation, topsoil and seedlings were removed to be grown and returned to their original sites to restore the natural vegetation.
Eurotunnel now produces its own renewable energy, generating electricity from three wind turbines on the terminal at Coquelles, in France. While not yet sufficient to power the operation through the Channel Tunnel, the wind farm produces enough energy to supply 2,000 homes, and part of the profit from the electricity goes to a charity supporting families in energy poverty.
Using electricity to power the trains running through the tunnel has proven to be not only energy efficient, but also cost effective and a major benefit to the environment. Eurotunnel now uses electricity from low carbon sources, which has led to an initial reduction of 44 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions in the first year, followed by a further 20 per cent the year after.
This progress has been recognised by the Carbon Trust Standard who, in 2011, renewed Eurotunnel’s certification as an energy efficient transport operator, based on the group’s long-term energy efficiency strategy and application of energy consumption reduction methods.
With oil supply now more uncertain than ever and prices rising due to increased demand from the Far East and political instability in the Middle East and Africa, keeping an eye on fuel-efficient ways to move goods around is vital. Not only is a Eurotunnel crossing more carbon efficient than a ferry (20 times less carbon emission per truck crossing), but it also crosses closer to London and can therefore save hundreds of kilometres per year of fuel and truck wear and tear as well as hours of driver time. Eurotunnel has added a Carbon Counter to its website to help calculate the savings that can be made on a journey by shuttle compared to travelling by ferry.
More recently Eurotunnel has been sharing the advantages of its clean energy with customers. Each freight customer can request a certificate detailing the amount of carbon saved crossing the channel by Eurotunnel Shuttle compared with by ferry. These certificates can then be used to show the haulier’s customers how much effort they are making to reduce the carbon footprint of the delivered goods.
Since it opened in 1994, more than 265m people and more than 17m trucks have travelled through the Channel Tunnel. It has become the gateway between the UK and the continent and if you need to travel fast and clean, it is the only way to go.
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