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Renewable Energy: Why is Denmark so good?

Denmark is arguably the most innovative and productive country in the world when it comes to wind energy. To prove this, the Environmental Report for Danish electricity and CHP report of 2018 revealed that the total electricity generation from renewable energy sources in the country was 21,043 GWh in 2017. This is a whopping 71.4% of the total electricity generation in Denmark overall. That being said, how do they do it?

 

History

Denmark has held a long-standing tradition of using renewable energy as much as possible, and have been making a conscious effort to decrease reliance on fossil fuels for decades. After the global energy crisis in 1973, the country began creating policies to be greener. The first steps towards this new energy philosophy were putting money in energy savings, and replacing oil with coal in as many of their power plants as possible.

Then, they shifted their focus to the research and development of oil and natural gas in the North Sea. From 1981, the production of wind turbines and biomass plants was ramped up, and numerous energy agreements were drawn up over the coming years, with the end goal of next to no reliance on non-green energy being firmly in sight.

Denmark even held the impressive label of a country that creates more energy than it uses. They were an official net exporter of energy from 1998 to 2013.

 

Wind

The Danish wind company Vestas Wind Systems A/S has grown hugely since its inception in 1945. In 2003, the company came together with the Danish wind turbine manufacturer NEG Micon to start the largest wind turbine manufacturing company in the world, going by the name Vestas Wind Systems. It now (as of 2015) has an annual revenue of €8.423 billion, with plants in Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Romania, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia, China, and the United States.

Wind power is arguably the most important source of energy for Denmark as a country, with 42.7% of their electricity production in 2014 coming from it. Before 2024, they plan on increasing their wind power generation by 80% too. They’re as close as any other country to mastering wind power, and have the resources to grow their output, so branching out was always a no-brainer. Due to this, most of their future expansion is likely to be offshore.

WindDenmark describe the importance and effectiveness of wind power on this section of their website:

“Wind energy is the cheapest energy technology in many countries, including Denmark. Wind turbines produce pollution-free energy exclusively with the help of wind and can be installed on land and sea. While ensuring that electricity generation becomes greener, the wind turbine industry is making a significant contribution to the economy by creating a large number of jobs and large export revenues, especially in Denmark. In Denmark, more than one in 50 private employees work in a company in the wind turbine industry.”

Biofuels

Biofuels play a major part in Denmark’s goal of being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2050. Already the most widely used renewable energy source in Denmark, several large-scale power plants are being changed from fossil fuels to solid biomass like wood pellets, wood chips and straw. The production of biogas is increasing rapidly, and it is expected to triple from 2012 to 2020, according to the Danish Energy Agency (DEA).

The Danish Energy Agency works with public support, rules and regulations regarding the production and use of bioenergy. They’ve said about the importance of biofuels:

“Most sources of renewable energy are fluctuating and production from solar panels or wind turbines are depending on weather conditions. So far it is not possible to store electricity in large amounts. In contrast, however, it is possible to store bioenergy and use it in periods with high energy demand. Therefore, bioenergy is likely to play a critical role in terms of ensuring the security of supply in a future energy system with a large proportion of renewable energy.

Biofuels have the potential to provide environmental and economic benefits, but they must be carefully managed to ensure that they are truly sustainable resources as there is the potential to damage the economy and environment if they are not used responsibly. Biofuel use in Europe is certified by the EU commission before they can be recorded as sustainable resources and used for national renewable energy targets. The main sources of biofuels in Denmark include wood and wood products, energy from waste, straw, biogas, biodiesel and bioethanol.”

 

Solar

The sun shines for 1,540 hours a year in Denmark on average, which is about a fifth of the year. This is a lot less than some of their European competitors (Spain being around 2,800 for example), but this doesn’t mean sun power is uncommon for the country.

Solar panels, which are used for heating, are popular, and solar cells, which are used to for electricity, are too.

This isn’t the most popular method of generating power in Denmark, but it will definitely play a part in their journey to no fossil fuels by 2050.

 

Conclusion

Overall, Denmark just has different priorities when it comes to their energy. They are a country who decided to commit to change, and they’re slowly but surely phasing out the old in favour of the new. The rest of the world can definitely take a page out of their book.

 

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