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Denmark

Denmark

Call for a more rational approach -- Denmark's repowering fiasco

Denmark's incentive program for replacement of older wind turbines with new has been declared a fiasco by the Danish association of wind turbine owners. In the run up to a major parliamentary debate on Denmark's new national energy strategy, the association is calling for a EUR 0.016/kWh production incentive for electricity from all newly installed wind turbines for the equivalent of 12,000 hours of full load operation, which is about six years. The incentive to date has only been available if new turbines were replacing old units with rated capacities of up to 450 kW.

The association points out that half way through Denmark's five-year repowering program there is little indication that the goal for 175 MW of old turbines to be replaced with 350 MW of new will be reached before the end of 2009, as planned. Association director Asbjørn Bjerre argues that the program is unnecessary. Market forces already ensure that old turbines are taken down when it makes sense to do so, he says. "In many cases it is an unnecessary waste of resources to take down good, well functioning wind turbines before time," adds Bjerre.

As the repowering incentive operates today, it is effectively being used to buy operating wind turbines, which must be taken out of service in order to access the EUR 0.016/kWh incentive available for electricity from new turbines. These do not have to be built on the same site and the incentive is available for turbines of a much higher capacity than the scrapped machines.

Much of the blame for the repowering program's lack of success has been laid at the door of Denmark's local and regional governments, which have responsibility for granting building permits. But this us unfair, maintains Bjerre. Central government asked the local authorities to define land zones for wind power development on the eve of a major reform of the local government structure in Denmark, which dramatically changed authority borders and areas of responsibility.

The combined result of a poorly structured repowering program and poor timing for the identification of wind development zones has led to the current fiasco: only 15.75 MW of an intended 175 MW have been removed and just 22 MW of an intended 350 MW of new installations achieved.

Bjerre says politicians should face facts, admit the goals of the program will not be reached, and take alternative action. The EUR 0.016/kWh production incentive should be made available for all new turbines, whether or not they are being used to replace old turbines. Furthermore, the incentive should be doubled for project developers who have already bought up old wind plant. That would not unbalance the market because the first EUR 0.016/kWh has been used to buy old machines, says Bjerre.

Political discussions on Denmark's new energy plan are currently on hold until the government presents its strategy. A cross-party agreement is not expected before the autumn.

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