Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy used in powering its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and to become carbon-free by 2050 — targets that exceed the German government's already ambitious national goals.
"Consumers in Germany have made it clear they want us all to get away from nuclear energy and to more renewable energy," said Hans-Jürgen Witschke, chief executive of Deutsche Bahn Energie, which supplies electricity for trains in Germany.
"It's what customers want, and we're making it happen," Mr. Witschke said in an interview. "The demand for green electricity keeps rising each year, and that'll continue."
Prevailing attitudes in Germany were already decidedly green before the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
After the nuclear crisis in Japan, the Berlin government abruptly reversed course on nuclear power, shutting eight nuclear plants and vowing to close the other nine by 2022.
That caught Deutsche Bahn — and German industry — off guard. The state-owned railroad had relied heavily on nuclear energy. But now the public and industry are increasingly attuned to sustainability and to what companies are doing, Mr. Witschke said.
"Environmental protection has become an important issue in the marketplace and especially in the transport sector," he said. "Even though more renewables will cost a bit more, that can be contained with an intelligent energy mix and reasonable time frame. We're confident that cutting CO2 emissions will give us a competitive advantage."