This past June, I took a cruise with my daughters to Europe. It was a trip around the Baltic Sea and we did 'sea' a lot of new sights there. One of the things that caught my eye was a number of very large wind turbine farms in the area around Copenhagen, Denmark. Being located in the sea, these large turbines didn't seem to bother anything and my assumption was that they undoubtedly were generating substantial energy for local residents.
Well, it turns out that my observation was spot on....and much bigger than I knew.
In fact, it turns out Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and today a substantial share of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas and Siemens Wind Power along with many component suppliers.
Wind power produced the equivalent of 42.1% of Denmark's total electricity consumption in 2015!! In 2012 the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50% by 2020 and to 84% in 2035. Now that's commitment!
So why is Denmark a leader in this technology? It all goes back to concerns over global warming that arose in the 1980s. Denmark found itself with relatively high carbon dioxide emissions per capita, primarily due to the coal-fired electrical power plants which became the norm after energy crises in 1973 and 1979. Renewable energy (energy that is not depleted when used) became the natural choice for Denmark to decrease both dependence on other countries for energy and global warming pollution. They set a target of cutting carbon emissions 22% by 2005 (from 1988 levels) and planning of wind power was deliberately streamlined by authorities in order to minimize hurdles.
The result: Despite a mediocre average wind speed, Denmark has the highest proportion of wind power in the world! In 2015, Denmark produced 42% of its electricity usage from wind power. In addition, they met their carbon emissions goals easily and reduced overall emissions substantially. And, they have created an industry that the world now looks to for wind power.
So is it any surprise that there are a number of large off-shore and on-shore wind farms being built in Denmark as we speak?
Denmark is proof again that there are alternatives to oil and gas AND a part of the solution to our Sustainability goals. And it's starting. Here's a recent article on an off-shore wind farm success in in the U.S.: