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Denmark

Denmark

Special Report Europe 2020 - Nordic dilemmas - Fine words but not enough action - Denmark just has to double its wind power capacity

Denmark must acquire 30% of its energy from renewable resources in 2020 to fulfil its obligations under the EU's renewable energy directive. Within that time horizon, the only available technologies for meeting the goal are wind power and biomass/bioenergy. Each of those technologies can shoulder half the requirement without a problem, say both Denmark's wind power industry association and the association of wind turbine owners.

Replacement of the oldest turbines with new and completion of 1 GW of offshore plant is all that is required.

Denmark must acquire 30% of its energy from renewable resources in 2020 to fulfil its obligations under the EU's renewable energy directive. Within that time horizon, the only available technologies for meeting the goal are wind power and biomass/bioenergy. Each of those technologies can shoulder half the requirement without a problem, say both Denmark's wind power industry association and the association of wind turbine owners, Danmark's Vindmolleforening (DV).

Reaching the goal will take 6 GW of wind power by 2020, double the capacity in operation today. That will require 250 MW of additional capacity each year, with 160 MW of that (or 2 GW in total) achieved by replacing old turbines with new. The average age of Denmark's existing fleet of turbines is 13 years and by 2020 would have reached 24 years.

Detailed strategy

Denmark consumed 36,300 GWh of electricity in 2008 and the political goal is for that to be unchanged by 2020, or at the most increase by 5% to 38,500 GWh. Exactly how Denmark will achieve the 30% renewables target has yet to be decided, but there is political agreement for a detailed strategy to be in place well before the UN's climate change gathering in Copenhagen in December.

After lengthy cross-party negotiations, a new energy strategy was agreed in parliament on February 21, but it does not run past 2012 and only provides for 400 MW of additional offshore wind power and 150 MW on land. Denmark's regional authorities have asked for more long-term planning, but that request has been turned down by environment minister Troels Lund Poulsen. "Overall, there is almost a laughable distance between Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's talk about the green society and government policies in real life," says DV's Asbjorn Bjerre.

Different elements

For wind power, the main elements of the 2012 agreement are: a requirement to offer neighbours to new wind power projects a 20% share in their ownership; government loan guarantees covering the development costs of any wind project initiated by a local community or private group of people; financial compensation from the state to local authorities welcoming new wind projects to their areas; compensation to neighbours to new wind projects able to demonstrate a drop in the value of their property; an increased production incentive for new turbines from today's EUR0.013/kWh to EUR0.032/kWh for the first 22,000 hours of operation at the equivalent of full load, or about 12 years on a site with average winds; an extension of the program for replacing old turbines with new, which until now has been a fiasco; a "planning goal" for wind turbines on land to 2012; and one new offshore wind farm of 400 MW, to be installed in waters between Denmark and Sweden by 2012.

Revived offshore plans

With a seven year delay, the government is effectively re-launching the offshore plans it killed off when it came to power in 2001; at the same time it put a stop to all further wind development on land. For onshore wind power, the best politicians could manage most recently was to agree on 75 MW of wind power construction a year in 2010 and 2011. The Danish owners association fears that such a modest goal could do more harm than good. A lot more is needed to meet the 2020 goal and local authorities are also creating land zones for considerably more.

No decisions have been taken for what happens to renewable energy policy beyond 2012, although in a 2007 proposal, the government suggested that one-third of the required new capacity be installed on land and two-thirds offshore.

Torgny Moller, Windpower Monthly

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