Denmark Increases Renewables Targets

Denmark has long been at the forefront of the Wind Energy Industry.

Not only is the worlds leading turbine manufacturer (Vestas) Danish but it has the highest installed wind capacity of any country in the world. Despite this Denmark has also become the poster-child of the anti-wind lobby; who hold it up as a country that made a mistake in its energy policy, one which it had come to regret. It may come as a surprise then to find out that the newly elected Danish Government has just announced some new, increased targets for wind power.

With an installed capacity of 3.75 GW, wind energy is already generating over a quarter of Denmark’s total electricity demand. The new government has announced that by 2020 wind power is to generate 50% of the country’s energy demand. A hugely impressive figure and an 8% increase from the previous governments target. In addition to this the country is aiming for a 40% decrease in carbon emissions from their 1990 levels. Again an impressive target and a 10% increase on the previous¬†administration’s pledge. The country had already signed an European Union mandate to provide 30% of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2020; a figure that Denmark is already well on its way to surpassing. Perhaps the most ambitious aim is for the country to be entirely fossil fuel free by 2050. The Danish Wind Industry Association responded to these announcements by observing that: “The ambitious targets place Denmark in pole position on renewables among the developed countries.”

The new Prime Minsiter Helle Thorning-Schmidt unveiled his governments aims with the following speech:

“A green and more sustainable world does not evolve by itself. Setting this clear and long-term target is a crucial precondition for action… Because long term targets tell our power plants that they can safely focus on green energy. Because long-term targets tell the director of a wind turbine company that it is safe to invest in new markets. And because long-term targets tell families that it is worth their while to buy energy-saving windows or an electric car.”

It is expected that in order to achieve the 50% wind energy generation target that efforts will be focused upon the offshore sector. Denmark has been a pioneer in wind energy since the 1970s and as a result of this onshore wind already has a very high penetration, with the vast majority of the best and most suitable sites already being¬†utilised. New generation capacity will then have to be placed offshore, a fact acknowledged by the chief executive of Dong Energy Anders Eldrup: “In order to make [this target] happen, there must be a very fast build-out of wind, and for Denmark that will be mainly offshore wind.” Dong Energy is Denmark’s leading energy company and is 75% state owned. It is already involved in a number of offshore wind farms across Europe including two operational farms in British waters (Barrow and Burbo Bank).

Denmark is the home of the worlds original offshore wind farms as well as the worlds second and third biggest operational sites. Dong expects to meet with the Danish Government in the very near future to discuss where the necessary new wind farms will be placed. Anders Eldrup commented:

“there are lots of discussions that the next Danish project should be Kriegars Flak, which would be around 600MW. And there is talk that maybe there should be a Horns Rev 3 in the North Sea- I think that’s up for political discussion in the coming weeks.

“Maybe in the end there will be both of them. There are several opportunities there, but ultimately it’s a political decision to decide which comes first and how many there should be.”

The Danish Coast of the North Sea looks set to be a hive of activity in the coming years. This will be a blow to those who have sought to portray Denmark as a failed renewable state. Rather the country is seeking to continue to be a renewable leader.