Battle commences over country's future energy policy

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Denmark is warming up to a full scale political battle over the country's future energy policy. While the current right wing coalition government favours a market structured with no regulatory interference, a broad cross-section of opposition parties -- led by the powerful Social Democrats -- is arguing strongly for incentives for renewable energy. Current Conservative energy minister Flemming Hansen has promised to produce a draft paper for discussion by all political parties this month. The aim is to reach a broad political agreement on an energy policy for the next 20 years that all parties can sign up to and retain, no matter which political grouping forms future governments. Opposition parties are calling for binding goals for development of wind and solar power. But Hansen says he wants the energy supply mix to be decided by market economics alone. Currently, Denmark's energy market is not structured to take full account of the broad financial benefits to society of replacing fossil fuel use with renewable energy and so favours coal, gas and oil. Nuclear is not an option in Denmark, having been ruled out of bounds in a national referendum in the 1980s. The ongoing political conflict over the government's Energy Strategy 2025, which in essence revolves around binding goals versus non-binding policy guidance, has now raged for a year. Most recently, two opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the Radical Left party, issued their own energy policy documents. Both propose that by 2025 at least 80% of Danish electricity and at least 50% of all energy be covered by renewables. The target is to be reached by development of more wind power offshore and on land, solar energy in public buildings, and support for solar PV, geothermal and wave energy. Other suggestions include demand side control of energy use, use of biofuels for transport and energy saving. The negotiations are due to be completed in the autumn.

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