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Can Denmark Achieve Its 100% Renewable Goal?

November 12, 2014 By Karen Henry

Denmark wind Energy ManageDenmark is pursuing a goal to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050, The New York Times reports.

The country is currently getting just over 40 percent of its power from renewable sources and is aiming for 50 percent by 2020. Earlier this year, Denmark formed a nearly $1 billion green fund in an effort to reduce energy use, fund renewable energy projects and create jobs.

The Danes show no signs of wanting to slow their ambitious push, and electricity suppliers are beginning to feel the heat. Wind and solar cost very little money to run; however, as more renewable energy sources replace fossil fuel on the grid, power prices are crashing, rendering conventional power plants uneconomical to run, says the NY Times. The problem is that conventional power plants are still needed to supply backup power when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. And although Denmark has close electrical ties to Sweden, those ties may soon get severed. Sweden, which has abundant nuclear capacity, is looking to shut down its nuclear plants and go renewable, and demand for Norway’s inexpensive hydroelectric power in increasing rapidly.

The Danish government has not been overly concerned by these issues, but it does recognize that it will eventually need to address them or face the political backlash of a blackouts attributed to the push for renewables.

Denmark must now focus on an intelligent redesign of its energy market, one that attaches a market value to standby capacity, The New York Times concludes.  The biggest smart grid project in Europe – the EcoGrid pilot – is being conducted on the Danish island of Bornholm. The project is trying to coordinate the fluctuations in the price of electricity with the volume of renewable energy available at five minute intervals.

Photo: Offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea off Copenhagen, Denmark, via Shutterstock.

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