Wind Power: a Danish Story-A review

By Paul Gipe

Wind Power–A Danish Story is a beautifully done DVD on the early days of the Danish wind industry. The film was produced by Jørgen Vestergaard in Danish with English subtitles and includes movie clips, photos, and interviews of Danish wind pioneers.

This is a powerful story that has been told many times by many different people in many different languages and in many different formats, but this DVD is done in the language of the people who did it. There’s the laughter at their own folly, the pathos of how trying the times were, and the pride of what they’ve accomplished.

It is the story of the men and women who started an energy revolution. And though the video is now a decade old, many of the participants are still making a difference, still active, still driving the revolution they began more than thirty years ago. It’s a story that’s a testament to the human spirit. Vestergaard skillfully captures the why and how of the early days and the revolutionary spirit of these “electricity rebels”.

At the time of the first energy crises, Denmark was considering where, not whether, to build its first nuclear plant. The people didn’t want it-they seldom do anywhere. But the elites, the politicians, the “establishment” of the day thought they knew better. This included Risø National Laboratory, the same Risø that later would become famous for its role testing “small” wind turbines.

It was the turmoil around this pending decision that led not only to the famous Danish logo–Atomkraft?-Nej Tak!–but also renewable energy activists to take action into their own hands and, thus, the revolution was born. They knew they couldn’t count on Risø to develop renewable energy, so they decided to do it themselves.

There’s a lengthy interview in the video with a women engineer about the construction of what was then the world’s largest wind turbine at Tvind. The legendary turbine was built by students and young people. At a time when Boeing, Westinghouse, General Electric, Hamilton Standard, Kaman, Messerschmitt, and MAN had all failed to build a successful wind turbine, the political activists at Tvind did. That turbine became a beacon to citizens around the world and it still operates today, more than three decades later.

The video includes the founding of Vestas with some rare photos of Birger Madsen’s early experimentation with a bi-blade Darrieus turbine and a clip of Henrik Stiesdal holding a 1-meter rotor in his hands to show that the power of the wind can be felt, sensed, and feared by those who were close to it.

The world owes these Danish pioneers a debt of gratitude for the birth of modern wind energy and the spark that started the renewable revolution now sweeping the globe.

Wind Power–A Danish Story is a video featuring

  • Christiansen Riisager, one the “blacksmiths” who first connected a wind turbine to the grid-without permission;
  • Torgny Møller, muckraking journalist who founded Naturlig Energi and then Windpower Monthly and installed the second Riisager turbine in Denmark;
  • Erik Grove Nielsen, early blade designer and manufacturer (Okaer);
  • Preben Maegaard, Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, whose prescient decision to urge standardization of key components led to a blossoming of many manufacturers;
  • Birger Madsen, early wind turbine designer at Vestas and renowned industry analyst;
  • Henrik Stiesdal, early wind turbine designer and later chief designer at Bonus (now Siemens);
  • And other pioneers in the development of the Danish wind industry.

Vindkraft – en dansk historie (Wind Power-A Danish Story) a film by Jørgen Vestergaard, JV Film & TV, +45 97 98 50 20, e-mail:, 75 minutes, 2003, 150 DKK (~$30). Available from the producer directly.