Denmark’s clean energy goal: 30% renewable Energy by 2020
Until it breaks the shackles of foreign oil, can a nation be truly free? Until it liberates itself from fossil fuel dependency, can a nation fully live up to its responsibilities to the people of the planet?
As Denmark learned the hard way over many years, there is no single, simple solution. We were 99% dependent on imported oil until the 1973 Arab embargo. Then we switched to imported coal to fire our power plants until global warming made us rethink it.
Coal rescued us. Being cut off from oil had caused severe economic pain. Unlike may countries, we didn’t suffer embargo amnesia once the crisis passed. Denmark engineered an economic, social, and political miracle to become a net exporter of energy. And today our Mid-East oil imports are zero.
The transformation took far-sighted government policies and strong public support. It also took power industry cooperation and innovation. The six energy companies that united to form DONG Energy in 2006 were instrumental in making it happen.
Today DONG Energy earns $7.6 billion USD in annual revenues and employs about 5100 people. DONG Energy generates electricity and distributes it to a million Danish customers. It explores for oil and natural gas, produces them from North Sea wells, operates oil and gas pipelines and distribution systems.
Switching our power plants to coal after 1973 solved the energy supply problem but created a CO2 emissions problem. As an energy company, DONG Energy sees itself as “co-owner of the CO2 problem. Therefore, we should naturally be part of the solution, too. Our vision is CO2-neutral energy.”
So beginning in the late 1980s, DONG Energy has increasingly supplemented the coal with solid biofuels like wheat straw and wood chips. Today the power plant "Herningvaerket" runs 100% on renewable energy. The future belongs to continuing innovations in renewable energy. Denmark’s goal is 30% renewables by 2020. Our country already generates 20% of its power from wind turbines. DONG Energy operates more offshore wind turbines than anyone else and has designed and built six out of ten of the world’s largest offshore wind farms. It’s also exploring hydro, solar cell, and wave power.
In the past decade, DONG Energy’s explorations into renewable fuels have led it into biomass conversion and the formation of Inbicon.
Will the energy lessons Denmark has learned can point the way for the world’s big energy consumers? Will Inbicon’s technological discoveries accelerate the switch to renewables that is especially critical for North America?
And what can your role be in this transformation to a healthier planet?