Danes step their game up in global renewable energy race


As Vikings the Danes used the power of the wind to drive their longboats across the seas, pillaging and then settling large swathes of land. Now, a far more peaceful nation, they are widely regarded as the world leaders in wind power. Alex Blackburne explores an abitious but entirely refreshing plan from the Nordic state.

Denmark is upping its already lofty goals by aiming to become 100% renewable in less than 40 years’ time. 

In the country, and neighbouring Scandinavian states, Sweden, Norway and Finland, winter sunlight can be weak and in the most northern regions varies from as much as seven or eight hours a day to as little as none at all.

It would therefore be understandable, if not condoned, that this impairment in the natural lighting department would force the region to become over-dependent on fossil fuels, as solar power just isn’t feasible to support the required power generation in the long, cold winter months.

However, the Scandinavian nations have used their geographical disadvantage in this sense to their advantage, with Denmark in particular setting a global example in wind energy production.

As of 2008, wind power contributed the highest percentage of all the renewable energy forms in the country, providing 18.3% of power.

Five years ago, RenewableEnergyWorld.com reported that the Danes had set themselves a target to increase this figure to 50% by 2025.

And now, the Danish Government has gone one step further, by increasing the target yet again, so that by 2050 the country’s energy will be 100% renewably-sourced.

“This is an historical effort to become even better at saving energy and create an even more competitive and energy-effective company culture in Denmark, also for households”, said minister for climate, energy and building, Martin Lidegaard, as reported by Reuters.

The previous 50% plan by 2025 has also been brought forward by officials, with the country now aiming to half-rely on renewables five years earlier than planned, with 2020 now the objective.

Because of the shortcomings that Denmark faces in the solar power sector, as well as the lack of hydro and nuclear energy production projects in the country, the 100% renewable target is set to eat into the current 44% share of fossil fuel-produced energy.

The Government hope that coal-fired power plants and oil-fired heating will be completely non-existent by 2030, with biomass in line to replace the void left by coal.

Denmark’s proactivity in the renewable energy field has been echoed by Scotland, which in May this year released even more ambitious plans to become 100% renewable by 2020. Meanwhile, Germany has mirrored the Danes’ proposals by similarly stating its desire to become 100% renewable by 2050.

This nifty infographic from The Guardian shows the percentage of power that each EU Member State derived from renewable sources in 2005, compared to the target it needs to achieve by 2020 in order to meet the EU’s 20% overall target. As the graphic shows, the UK faces one of the biggest percentage increases in Europe if it is to fulfil the EU’s demands for renewable energy.

By the end of the second quarter the UK had managed a mere 9.6% renewable energy despite sharing the same perpetually windy sea as the Danes.

Thanks to countries like Denmark, Scotland and Germany, the European chase for wholly renewable energy in the future is becoming ever-easier, though there is still a long way to go.  

Investing in renewable, clean technologies would help propel the UK up the alternative energy producers’ rankings, and maybe then, the rest of Europe will marvel at our efforts.

The message is: don’t be a renewable energy spectator, be a renewable energy player.

If you would like more information about investing in innovative, ground-breaking, and, most importantly, renewably-sourced technologies, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser. Alternatively you can get all of your energy from a 100% renewable power company such as Good Energy.

Photo: Phault