Denmark goes for total independence

Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a public statement admitting the folly of both his doubts about global warming and his government's foot dragging on renewable energy, declared last month that he was setting a goal for Denmark to be totally free from dependence on coal, oil and gas. "We will create a fossil-free Denmark," he said. Fogh also stressed that Denmark is committed to doubling the contribution of renewables to energy supply by 2025, to be partly achieved by more wind power development.

Fogh's words were met with scepticism by Denmark's wind turbine owner's association. It points out that the renewables goal is far from new and that this is not the first time the prime minister has spoken up for wind power. Even so, under Fogh's leadership the Danish wind energy market, which for years led the world, has been all but dead since 2003, with installed capacity stuck at around 3 GW. Current activity is restricted to construction of three further offshore wind farms sponsored by government, the first of which is to be online by the end of 2009, and sporadic replacement of old turbines with new.

In explaining his new found belief in the teachings of the UN's climate change panel, Fogh pointed out that it took 5000 years for the world's temperature to rise by five degree Celsius since the last ice age, but that a rise of three to four percent will take place in the next 100 years.

"What we need today is an industrial breakthrough. We will create a new green market economy that will form the foundation of a new sustainable growth period in the history of the world," said Fogh. "What mankind has done, mankind can undo. The price is the same whether we take action or choose not to."

Fogh is to host the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December next year. His sudden enthusiasm for renewables followed a call last month by the traditionally conservative International Energy Agency for an "energy revolution" (page 55).