In the 1970s, Denmark was addicted to oil, burning petroleum not only to power its cars but also to generate electricity. Forty years later, the country is rapidly gaining on a mid-century goal of being fossil fuel-free, thanks partly to a policy that gives Danish citizens the legal right to own a stake in wind farms. More than 40% of the country is now powered by wind, up from less than 25% a few years ago, and compared to only 5% in the United States
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At the time of the first oil crisis in 1973, Denmark’s oil imports supplied 92% of its energy while the degree of energy self-sufficiency was only about 2%. By introducing carbon taxes which progressively pushed the price of petrol (gas) to become the most expensive in Europe. Denmark now has zero imports from the Middle East. Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and today a substantial share of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers. Wind power produced the equivalent of 33% of Denmark’s total electricity consumption in 2013, 39% in 2014 and 42.1% in 2015. In 2012 the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50% by 2020, and to 84% in 2035. The Horns Rev system of 80 wind turbines in the North Sea is the biggest off-shore wind farm in the world and generates enough power to supply 150,000 homes, which is more than the 300 wind turbines on-shore. On windy days it exports power to Germany, Sweden and Norway, and on days with insufficient wind, imports from those neighbors. 
July 2011:  Denmark’s road map for fossil fuel independence - link

Latest news:

Jan. 7 2016: Denmark’s best selling car is a Tesla. In December, the Tesla Model S not only outsold every other electric car in Denmark, but every single car model regardless of if they are gas-guzzling or battery-powered. Tesla delivered 1,249 Model S’s in December in Denmark, easily beating the second best-selling vehicle; the Peugeot 208 with 903 vehicles sold during the month.  Electric vehicle sales surged during the last quarter of 2015 because of car buyers taking advantage of tax breaks before they started phasing out after the new year. link



  • Ambitious goals
  • Wind energy
  • Renewable energy
  • Other news
Ambitious goals

February 2014: Denmark sets more ambitious climate goals than all of Europe. Agreement in Denmark’s parliament has cleared the way for passage of climate targets that would outstrip the recent goals set by the European Union. The bill would establish a legally binding requirement that Denmark cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990′s levels by 2020, and that the government returns to the question every five years to set new 10-year targets. The legislation would also establish a Climate Council, modeled on a similar body in Britain, to advise the government on the best ways to continue reducing Denmark’s reliance on fossil fuels. Denmark’s present and former governments have already committed the country to a goal of 100% renewable energy generation by 2050. Meanwhile, Denmark has already been making substantial progress on the climate front. Responding to Climate Change pulled from the Danish Energy Agency, renewable energy accounted for 43.1% of Denmark’s domestic electricity supply in 2012, and for 25.8% of all energy consumption in the country that year. Renewables provided 23.1% of the electricity Denmark consumed in 2011. link

April 2016: Denmark is considering proposals to introduce a tax on red meat, after a government think tank came to the conclusion that “climate change is an ethical problem”. The Danish Council of Ethics recommended an initial tax on beef, with a view to extending the regulation to all red meats in future. It said that in the long term, the tax should apply to all foods at varying levels depending on climate impact. The council voted in favour of the measures by an overwhelming majority, and the proposal will now be put forward for consideration by the government. link

December 2009: Thomas Friedman (NYT) explains why Danish politicians and business leaders have accepted high energy taxes to do the right things - while keeping their unemployment rate down to 4%. With only five million people, Denmark boasts some of the leading wind, biofuel and heating, cooling and efficiency companies in the world. Energy technologies are now 11% of Denmark’s exports  

October 2013: Denmark to cut energy use by 12%. Energy consumption in Denmark has been pretty much flat since 1970, whereas in the U.S., consumption has increased about 70%.  U.S. utilities have counted on revenue growth from climbing consumption, making them more likely to resist a slowdown or reversal of that trend. In Denmark, regulation often takes place through negotiations between government and industry, with a mutually agreed-upon consensus as a result. The 2012 agreement is expected to cut 2020 energy use to 12% below 2006 levels. A key difference is that Denmark’s agreement simply sets conservation requirements and lets companies determine the most cost-effective way to reach them, whether it’s handing out energy-efficient light bulbs or helping with insulation installation. And these efforts are cost-neutral for the companies. They have to meet efficiency requirements, and whatever they spend making it happen can be recovered by passing on the costs to consumers. The very structure of Danish utilities makes things easier. Distribution companies, the ones that are required to promote efficiency, are separate from production companies, the ones that stand to lose out the most if efficiency increases. That also results in distribution companies forming “sister companies” that profit from providing energy savings services. link

Wind Energy

Denmark's Wind of Change - Time magazine (February 2009)

November 2016: World’s cheapest offshore wind farm to power 600,000 homes. The Kriegers Flak is set for operations by 2022 and will be Denmark's largest offshore wind farm. The farm will be able to supply 600,000 households or 23%  of all Danish households. Denmark goal is to get 50% of its power from renewables by 2020. The nation plans to ditch fossil fuels entirely by 2050. link

January 2016: Denmark sets new record for wind energy. Danish wind turbines set a new world record in 2015. Wind power is now counted for 42.1% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark. link
January 2015: Denmark sets world record in wind energy. In 2014, wind-generated energy made up 39.1% of Denmark's overall electricity consumption which makes the country the world's leading nation in wind-based power usage. This is an increase from 18.8% since 2004. link

July 2014: Onshore wind power is now cheapest form of energy in Denmark. A new analysis from the government of Denmark found that wind power is by far the cheapest new form of electricity in the country. New onshore wind plants coming online in 2016 will provide energy for about half the price of coal and natural gas plantslink

August 2012: Embracing wind: Denmark's recipe for a model democracy. It's estimated that some 50,000 wind turbines have been exported from Denmark, nearly 50% of the wind-powered generators worldwide. But sales are declining now that large industrialized nations, such as India, China and the US, are emulating the Danes' success. In addition to the graceful, towering turbines made of fiberglass and steel, however, Denmark has also given the world a shining example of sustainability: The parliamentary monarchy is widely seen as a laboratory and model for how an entire country can make the transition away from coal, oil and gas and toward energy generated from renewable resources.  Hailed as a "miracle of modern politics," Denmark consistently earns top marks for its efficient governance, innovation and transparency. Nowhere is this more apparent than with its successful embrace of wind power, making it a role model for the world. link (Photograph: Alamy)
August 2010: Thirty kilometers off the west coast of Denmark. 91 turbines with a capacity of 209MW were deployed since September 2009 in the Horns Rev 2 wind farm. These supplement Horns Rev 1 established in 2002 with 80 turbines producing 160MW. Nine out of ten Danes cite wind power as the main priority for developing renewable energies. In 2010 sales of wind technology will represent more than 10% of Denmark's exports.  link    

Renewable Energy

November 2014: Denmark aims for 100% renewable energy. Denmark is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change aiming to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050, not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well.  Denmark is above 40% renewable power today on their electric grid, aiming toward 50% by 2020. link 

June 2014 Denmark to launch $1 billion green energy fund. Denmark will establish a nearly $1 billion green fund to attract private capital to reducing energy consumption, fund renewable energy projects and provide a boost to the nation’s job sector, the country’s finance minister Bjarne Corydonlink 

March 2012: Denmark – 100% renewables goal by 2050. The Danish parliament had agreed a new set of goals designed to wean the country off oil and gas. Denmark now aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 (compared to 1990) and to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables, with half of its electricity delivered by wind farms.  ”Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," said Martin Lidegaard, climate minister.  "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years." The agreement will help Denmark achieve its goal of supplying 100% of its energy from renewables by 2050, including electricity, heating, industry and transport. link  

December 2010: Denmark boasts a 100% renewable energy community. The Lolland Hydrogen Community generates 50% more wind energy than needed, and converts the excess to produce hydrogen. Called the Lolland Hydrogen Community, the project began in the middle of 2007 as a way of taking the excess wind energy produced by the island community and putting it to use. The wind energy that was being produced in excess was used to power an electrolyser that worked to separate the oxygen and hydrogen molecules that comprised water. Once the hydrogen is separated it is stored in pressure tanks and it is then used to power fuel cells that provide the community with electricity. Although powering the community’s power grid with the hydrogen fuel cells proved to be a success the Lolland Hydrogen Community knew they could take the renewable energy a step forward. To achieve this end, the researchers on the community developed smaller hydrogen fuel cells that could be placed in a home and act similar to a boiler in order to provide heating, air, and energy.  link  

Other news

Electric cars.  

October 2015: Denmark’s latest policy u-turn bad news for electric cars. In Denmark, electric cars make up a much smaller percentage of the market, but still a significant one for car makers. Danes have been the fifth most enthusiastic buyers of electric vehicles in Europe so far in 2015. Denmark, once a leader in policies aimed at combatting climate change, is pulling back from some of its most ambitious initiatives. In a new decision, the government may end its generous tax breaks for citizens who buy low-carbon vehicles, tripling the retail price of some electric cars. The price of a Tesla Model S would soar from about $97,665 to $270,000 after the change. This will surely affect sales of electric cars, which have doubled in Denmark since one year ago, and deal a huge blow to manufacturers like Tesla. link

November 2015: Explained: Denmark's crazy car registration tax - link

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