Danish Renewable Energy Policy A Review

By Preben Maegaard

Danish Renewable Energy Policy by Preben Maegaard recounts the historic development of Danish policy from the perspective of one its participants.

Maegaard, director of the Nordic Folkecenter for Vedvarende Energi (Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy) is a longtime renewable energy advocate and activist. Maegaard has also been a longtime proponent of community ownership as practiced in Denmark.

The report contains useful data on the development of renewable energy and its role in Danish electricity supply.

By 2007, 43 percent of the 36 TWh used annually in Denmark are produced by Independent Power Producers.

Of this 43 percent, wind accounts for 18-20 percent and local Combined Heat & Power (CHP) around 25 percent.

It took only ten years, one decade to shift nearly one-half Danish generation away from centralized power plants.

This demonstrates, says Maegaard, that society can choose to phase out centralized fossil-fired generation if it chooses to do so.

CHP plants will play an increasingly important role in regulating the power supply system as more and more wind is added to the system.

Local CHP is scalable and flexible to operate making them a good match for wind and solar power.

Contrary to reports in the English-speaking press, Denmark has the fourth-lowest price (without taxes) of electricity for industrial customers in Europe.

Again, despite contrary reports and despite efforts by neoliberals to roll back Denmark’s renewable accomplishments, no new coal-fired power plants have been built. That bears repeating. Even after political control was shifted to a conservative government with a strong neoliberal ideology in 2001, no new coal-fired power plants have been built.

However, the new government’s neoliberal policies favoring the utilities have led to increase inefficiencies in generation and to greater consumption of coal. In 2006, these policies of the conservative government led to the first increase in carbon emissions in nearly two decades. It is ironic that neoliberal think tanks now point to this as a “failure” of renewable energy when in fact it is a direct result of a conscious policy by neoliberal policy makers following classic neoliberal ideology. The conservative government’s failure is not a failure of renewable energy but a failure of its policy that marked a sharp reversal of earlier policy.

Electricity was restructured along neoliberal lines in 2004. Transmission was transferred to a new company energinet.dk.

The role of cooperatives or shared-ownership guilds has declined as the conservative government’s neoliberal policies have taken effect. At one time 150,000 households owned wind turbine shares, today there are only 50,000 share owners left.

Danish Renewable Energy Policy Article by Dr. Preben Maegaard, Vice-President of EUROSOLAR, Director of the Danish Folkecenter for Renewable Energy and member of the WCRE Chairperson Committee, September, 2009.