Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Denmark and windpower

As someone who lives in a little town that has three Danish wind turbines turning against the horizon, I am not a bit surprised that the Danes have now built enough of these graceful giants to actually meet their total electricity demands on days with ideal conditions.  Denmark is a tiny country with a small population.  Not surprisingly their economy doesn't overwhelm very many categories.  But because of an interesting combination of historical forces, wind power is one of them.  They are still a ways from becoming a fully "decarbonized" society but they seem to be far enough along to actually see such a goal on their horizon.

I personally find it very encouraging that someone is actually forging ahead with real solutions.  Yes there are scaling problems between Denmark and a USA or even England.  But someone has to iron out the kinks in powering a society by renewables and so when a small country assigns itself the task, it is good for the rest of us.  And as someone who lives in an area with so much wind that it actually drove some of the early settlers insane, I am especially glad to see someone working on the problems of powering a society with something as fickle as the wind.

Wind power generates 140% of Denmark's electricity demand

Unusually high winds allowed Denmark to meet all of its electricity needs – with plenty to spare for Germany, Norway and Sweden too

Arthur Neslen 10 July 2015

So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden.

On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%.

Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.

“It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind energy and renewables can be a solution to decarbonisation – and also security of supply at times of high demand.”

The figures emerged on the website of the Danish transmission systems operator,, which provides a minute-by-minute account of renewable power in the national grid. The site shows that Denmark’s windfarms were not even operating at their full 4.8GW capacity at the time of yesterday’s peaks.

A surge in windfarm installations means Denmark could be producing half of its electricity from renewable sources well before a target date of 2020, according to Kees van der Leun, the chief commercial officer of the Ecofys energy consultancy.

“They have a strong new builds programme with a net gain of 0.5GW in new onshore windfarms due before the end of the decade,” he said. “Some 1.5GW from new offshore windfarms will also be built, more than doubling the present capacity. We’re seeing a year-on-year 18% growth in wind electricity, so there really is a lot of momentum.”

The British wind industry may view the Danish achievement with envy, after David Cameron’s government announced a withdrawal of support for onshore windfarms from next year, and planning obstacles for onshore wind builds.

Joy said: “If we want to see this happening on a European scale, it is essential that we upgrade the continent’s ageing grid infrastructure, ensure that countries open up borders, increase interconnection and trade electricity on a single market.”

Around three-quarters of Denmark’s wind capacity comes from onshore windfarms, which have strong government backing. more

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