Power sector pushes for green strategy -- Cheapest option for Denmark

Denmark's power industry is unanimously calling for renewable energy to provide 70% of the country's electricity by 2025, with 50% coming from wind and 20% from other renewables. The targets are part of an overall power industry goal for 30% of Denmark's entire energy consumption to come from renewable sources within the next 20 years, compared with 12% today.

The industry declaration emerged from a 48-hour summit, Energy Camp 04, during which 48 key members of the Danish energy industry sat in isolation last month. On the third day they presented their conclusions to government, which is to announce a new energy policy to 2025 in the spring. The declaration has the backing of the entire Danish energy sector, including electric utility companies and all forms of generation. The aim is for Denmark to continue to be a net exporter of energy and energy technology once its North Sea oil reserves are depleted.

"In a world when we dream about going to Mars and oil is a finite resource it is essential that we develop the potential lying at our feet. We do not know exactly when oil will run out, but it will. In Denmark we are talented at exploiting many different energy sources, such as wind, solar power, coal and straw. What we have not done is to get it all playing in harmony. For example, excess electricity could be used to generate hydrogen for transport. For this reason we need to put all our effort into forming a strong demonstration and test environment so the good ideas can be carried out in the real world," says Hans Duus Jørgensen, director of the association of Danish electricity producers, Dansk Energi.

The declaration also recommends that by 2025 energy efficiency should be increased by at least 30%, that at least 25% of energy for transport should come from renewable sources, that existing buildings should reduce their heating needs by at least 30%, that by 2015 all new buildings should be energy neutral, that energy consumption should drop by 15% by 2025 and that CO2 emissions should be halved in comparison with 1991.

Only days before the Energy Camp, a major new analysis concluded that if Denmark converted its energy supply from oil and coal to renewable energy the country could save EUR 13 billion and that it is cheaper to invest in sustainable energy development than not to. The analysis is by civil engineer Klaus Illum of EcoConsult for the Danish Society of Engineers, which has 61,000 members. It is published by the society's trade newspaper, The Engineer.

Using "Sesam" computer modelling of the entire Danish energy system, the analysis projects a series of scenarios to 2030. Significantly, while none of these include the environmental advantages of burning less fossil fuel, they still reveal a clear economic reward in changing to renewable energy. At the same time, a 40% reduction in the use of fossil fuel will lead to a halving of Danish CO2 emissions by 2030.

Oil prices are included as a parameter. Five scenarios are calculated using three oil prices, $32, $81 or $138 per barrel in the next 25 years. The sustainable energy scenarios are economically competitive even using the lowest oil price from 2002.

The computer modelling presumes that Denmark operates an isolated energy system and does not take into account the economic advantages of the strong links with its neighbours in Scandinavia to the north and Germany and the rest of Europe to the south.