Case study: Denmark: Pioneer of wind power

Share this article
Have your say

WHEN concerns over global warming began to grow in the 1980s, Denmark found itself in the position of being a relatively high emitter of carbon dioxide, primarily due to its reliance on coal-fired power stations.

It took the bull by the horns and became a pioneer in developing wind power technology. Today, almost half of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas and Siemens. The Danish wind turbine industry is the world’s largest, with about 90 per cent of them exported.

Annual wind power production is currently equal to about a fifth of all electricity consumed in Denmark.

Denmark’s installed wind capacity has grown from 326 megawatts in 1990 to 3,927 megawatts at the end of 2011, with most of the increases over the past few years due to new offshore schemes.

In 2012, the Danish government adopted a plan to increase the share of electricity production from wind to 50 per cent by 2020.

DONG Energy is preparing the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm, the largest offshore wind farm in Denmark with 111 turbines. It will be finished in 2013, and make up about 4 per cent of all electric energy produced in Denmark.

Denmark is connected by transmission lines to other European countries, meaning it does not need additional power plants to balance its power. Instead, it purchases additional power from its neighbours.

The amount of Denmark’s wind power that is exported to countries such as Germany, Norway and Sweden, has been disputed, with claims varying from 40 per cent to 1 per cent.

There has been some criticism of Denmark’s drive towards wind power. In 2009, the Danish think-tank CEPOS reported that Danes pay the highest residential electricity rates in the European Union, partly to subsidise wind power.

It also estimated that 90 per cent of wind industry jobs were transferred from other industries, and Danish GDP is $270 million lower than it would have been without wind industry subsidies. The report was later heavily criticised.

Jenny Fyall