Denmark leads the charge in renewable energy

Denmark has lofty goals: By 2020, the country aims to produce 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources and to make the switch to renewables completely by mid-century.

"Today, we're already at 43 percent," said Kristoffer Bottzauw, the deputy director general of the Danish energy agency Energistyrelsen, which coordinates Denmark's energy policy.

"At present, renewable energy sources account for about 25 percent of Denmark's total energy consumption," said Bottzauw. He's convinced that the country's goal to completely abandon coal, oil and gas by 2050 is realistic.

Tobias Austrup, an expert for Greenpeace said, "Denmark has shown that industrialised countries are able to carry out real, genuine and rapid energy transition in the middle of Europe." Austrup sees the Danish energy policy as a blueprint for Europe and Germany.

With about 4,500 miles of coastline, the conditions for wind power in Denmark are better than almost anywhere in Europe. Located between the North and Baltic Seas, Denmark has naturally looked to the waters to expand its wind power projects.

But offshore wind farms alone are not enough to meet energy demands, and so wind power projects have also been expanded on land. Local resistance to growing wind power plants often prevented further development in the past, but in 2008 the government introduced new requirements that brought about greater acceptance.

In Germany, a popular argument against renewable energy is the lack of competitiveness. The Danish government has chosen a different path. Companies receive a subsidy if they use renewable energy and increase their energy efficiency, a policy that encourages creativity and leads to savings.

In order to continue being a market leader, Denmark has invested heavily in research and the promotion of renewable energy, energy-efficient technologies and renewable heat supply systems. Every year, the sector is responsible for creating around 6,000-8,000 new jobs in the country of 5.5 million people.


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