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Green energy: Denmark’s experience could benefit other countries

Denmark's wealth of experience in renewable energy could help the world transition to green energy

Middelgrunden offshore wind park, 3.5km outside Copenhagen. When built in 2000, it was the world's largest - WIKIPEDIA

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Denmark’s entry into renewable energy began in the early 1970s as a result of the oil crisis.

Prior to this, the nation’s energy requirement was met by oil. Since then, it has embarked on a policy of transitioning to green energy.

Green energy currently meets about two-thirds of Denmark’s energy demand. Because of the country’s early farsightedness, about half of the nation’s current energy requirement is met by wind and solar power, while biomass accounts for 15%.

Denmark today is leading the way in the transition to green energy. The country has an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% (from 1990 levels) by 2030 and increasing renewable energy to cover 100% of electricity demand. 

Moving to green energy has been on the agenda of successive Danish governments over the past five decades. 

In 2019 the country announced a new climate law and then reinforced its commitment at the 2021 UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow by increasing its financial aid to developing countries for climate adaptation and the green transition.

Green energy now is an obsession in Denmark, and it is inculcated in the people.

Denmark is increasing its green energy supply by developing two large-scale offshore wind farms or “energy islands” in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea.

In the North Sea, an artificial island will be built to serve as a hub for up to 3GW of offshore wind farms initially, with a provision for future expansion of up to 10GW. The artificial island will be located nearly 80km west of Jutland, with a water depth of 26-27m (85–89ft).

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The Baltic Sea hub will be built on the natural island of Bornholm and will be able to serve up to 3GW of offshore wind farms.

The project will be the largest construction project in Denmark’s history and will increase the country’s total offshore wind energy capacity by fourfold if the initial phase is completed or by sevenfold if fully expanded.

Denmark’s wealth of experience makes it an ideal test-bed for wind energy. The country has gained a reputation for developing and testing new solutions, and it is at the forefront with its modern technology in this area. Renewable capacity statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that Denmark’s wind power installed capacity stands at 6.2MW (million watts).

How did Denmark become a global leader in wind energy?

One reason is that strong winds blow in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Denmark is also supported by a flexible domestic power system and a high level of interconnection. The country invests heavily in research through its institutions.

The nation seems willing to share its experiences with other countries to reduce greenhouses gases emissions globally and help humanity tackle climate change.

The world faces many challenges today in tackling climate change. The rising demand for energy globally is now mostly met by fossil fuels.

Many countries face difficulty in switching to green energy due to the political and economic implications. The onus is on countries that are reluctant to find sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel energy to act now.

The Danish solutions should inspire an interest in these countries to explore solar, wind or biomass energy. Each country should evaluate the type of green energy suitable for its requirements. Once this is determined, Denmark could then offer assistance and technical knowhow to help them transition to green energy more quickly.

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Change does not happen overnight. Remember, Denmark’s transition started 30 years ago with wind power. The country’s techniques, practices and plans have been developed gradually over the years in its quest for the right solutions.

Other nations can benefit by collaborating with Denmark in green energy. Any nation seeking Danish help can gain from the country’s experience and overcome obstacles, perhaps even leapfrogging forward from the start.

Despite being a small country of 5.8 million people, Denmark has been selfless in sharing its experiences with other nations trying to green their environments.

Countries around the world should seek collaboration with Denmark, as humanity seeks to move more quickly towards a greener future.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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